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What Are the European Solidarity Corps (ESC)?

Hello everybody! I am Dino and I am a 25 year old ESC volunteer in Amazonas. I am Montenegrin but I grew up in Italy, where I studied Political Sciences and International Relations, specializing in European Affairs. 

In this article I will explain to you what the ESC are and how you can apply to become an ESC volunteer. So, keep on reading! 

European Solidarity Corps’ Motto: Enhancing Youth Participation 

The first thing to know is that the ESC belongs to the framework of the European Youth Portal, which was launched by the European Commission in 2004 — following the suggestions of the EURODESK and the European Youth Forum — within the framework of the White Paper “A New Impetus for European Youth”. 

The purpose of this paper was to enhance the social participation and awareness of the European youth, giving them the opportunity to work or volunteer within their areas of interest and geographical comfort zone. Thus, the ESC activities may be held in your own country or abroad, within the area of the European Union. 

The Origin of the European Solidarity Corps 

As for the genesis of the ESC, it is good to know that this initiative was launched in 2016 by the European Commission. The idea of these “Corps” was addressed by the then-President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker in his speech in front of the EU parliament, “A European Solidarity Corps”. 

On that occasion, President Juncker stated that the European Union is built on solidarity, and that more solidarity will keep Europe together, because it provides the necessary unity to cope with current and future crises by holding a strong moral ground. 

The speech read out: “solidarity is the glue that keeps our Union together, and the young people across the European Union will be able to volunteer their help where it is needed most, to respond to crisis situations and to give their help to the local communities. These young people will be able to develop their skills and get not only work but also invaluable human experience”. 

The Final Step: The EU Regulation 

After two years, in September 2018, the European Parliament adopted the EU regulation for the ESC, which entered into force in October. Finally, a new opportunity was available for all those European youngsters who are willing to give their contribution on behalf of the European Union. 

The ESC supports the political priorities of the EU and engages organisations and young people in projects regarding inclusion and diversity, incorporation of green practices, support for digital transition, refugees and migrants, environmental issues, activities for children or the elderly, support for NGOs, organisation of cultural events, and recently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, projects addressing public health challenges. 

In short, the ESC is a funding programme of the EU that creates opportunities for young people to be useful within European society and give their contribution to improve the European family. 

European Solidarity Corps FAQs 

What Types of Projects Exist and How Long Do They Last? 

There are two kinds of projects: individual or team volunteering projects.

  • Individual Volunteering 

For what concerns the individual volunteering, the participants will take part in the daily work of organisations. These projects last between 2 and 12 months — in some cases, 2 weeks. 

  • Volunteering Teams 

Volunteering teams, instead, are groups of 10-40 people who volunteer together for a period between 2 weeks and 2 months. 

The duration of the different ESC project will be written within the description of the projects. 

Who Is Eligible for the ESC?  

All European citizens or citizens from countries which have joined the ESC programme, and all foreign citizens who have a long-term permit residence in one of the EU’s countries. The aspirant volunteers should be between 18 and 30 years, but it is possible to apply to the ESC projects already at 17 years of age — however, you cannot start a project before you turn 18. 

How Does the ESC Work?  

The ESC works in the form of grants to organisations, who can apply by submitting a proposal when calls for applications are published. 

How To Apply to the ESC Projects?  

Young people who wish to take part in an ESC’s project need to register to the European Youth Portal, where you need to add your basic information, the type of projects you would be interested in, and the experience and knowledge you can bring to ESC’s projects. 

Once you have accomplished your registration, you can start scrolling the ESC’s platform. There, you can search for the ongoing projects and read their descriptions. Choose the projects that fit you the most according to your wishes and competencies, and follow the instructions for submitting your application! 

Besides, you will have the possibility to filter the different ESC’s projects within this platform, based on the topic and length of the project or the destination country. 

How Many Applications Can I Send Through the ESC’s Portal?  

There are no limits to the number of applications that an aspirant volunteer can send. However, keep in mind that if you are chosen for an ESC project that exceeds the length of two (2) months and you join it, you will not be able to apply for another long-term project. Anyways, you will still be able, at the end of your project, to join other ESC’s activities. 

Therefore, don’t be scared to send out a lot of applications, this will widen your chances to join an ESC’s project! 

What Happens After the Application Process? 

It is good to know that you will have to attach a motivational letter to your application, in which you should explain why you are the ideal volunteer for the project for which you have applied. 

After a certain time, you will receive an email from the receiving organization, which will inform you whether or not you are shortlisted for an interview. This is why I told you to do as many applications as possible: You never know if you will be shortlisted on the first try and be chosen to start the project! 

Anyways, this are the first information that you should know about the European Solidarity Corps! It is really important for you to have a clear outlook of both history and structure of the ESC, so that you can decide which kind of projects are you interested the most, and if you are wishing to spend almost one year abroad or not. 

But don’t you worry! This is not all about the ESC. Next month Amazonas will publish a further article which will give you some advises to prepare yourself in the best way for your interview and arrival in you receiving organisation! And you will have my direct experience about the selection process.  

So don’t miss the second part of this article about the ESC, which will be also published on this website!