With the European Volunteering Service (EVS) now in its 20th year, GUE/NGL MEPs are calling on the Commission to provide more funding to the service and counter the wave of cuts by member states due to neoliberal policies.

GUE/NGL coordinator in the CULT committee, Curzio Maltese, has no doubt over how important the EVS is to Europe and why its funding must be safeguarded:

“The economic and sovereign debt crises, plus the prevalence of neoliberal thinking have pushed many member states in Europe in recent years to deregulate public services. This is unethical from an economic and social point of view as it creates a poorer Europe, a more unfair Europe and threatens to undermine the basis of the Union.”

“If we wish to save Europe, we need to go back to our fundamental values and the EVS is the embodiment of those: solidarity, cooperation and direct participation of citizens in an exemplary fashion,” he continued.

“We’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of the EVS and it’s great that there are 100 000 volunteers. But this figure could be five or ten times higher if we had more investment.” 

“We need common legislation in Europe and sufficient funds for developing voluntary work, especially in the cross-border sector,” concluded Maltese. 

Greek MEP and member on CULT, Nikolaos Chountis believes that whilst more funding is vital for the EVS, he cautioned against using these schemes to replace funding from the member states. 

“Unfortunately, volunteering within the EU is often used as a euphemism for discharging the state from providing social services. That means the reduction of paid jobs and the replacement of them with voluntary work.”

“We must examine closely what the EVS now encompasses and ensure that all the programmes that promote voluntary youth activities are there for the right reasons.” 

“Right now, 40 per cent of young people in Europe – especially those in the south – are unemployed. They don’t need voluntary services. Instead, it is more funding in education and decent jobs with full labour rights which are most important,” concluded Chountis.

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