A European pilot project for civic engagement and youth mobility.
1) The European Union’s pilot projects at a glance
The European budget provides an envelope for testing and experimenting new European policy initiatives and measures. These projects must be implemented in a short period of time – less than three years.
Pilot project proposals are submitted by members of the European Parliament as part of the annual budgetary procedure of the European Union. They are subject to an initial evaluation by the European Commission. The project authors and MEPs receive feedback from the Commission in order to improve their proposal.
2) We participated in the request for a pilot project combining national civic service systems and the European Solidarity Corps (ESC)
German MEP Niklas Nienass and the Collective for a European Civic Service worked together to design a proposal for a pilot project. It was forwarded to the European Commission in April 2020.
Strengthening the complementarity between European and national schemes seems to be the most effective option to increase both the inclusiveness of the ESC and the number of cross-border mobilities with equal public funding. In this regard, the pilot project relies on national civic services as a springboard to European mobility, by offering voluntary activities in two EU member states.
The proposed pilot project introduces the following innovations:
- It will be possible for young people to combine a first civic service in their country, taking advantage of it to prepare the second civic service carried out via the ESC in another Member State (different from that of residence)
- The home country experience will focus on European openness and mobility as it will prepare the second phase of the program:
- the in-country phase is systematically carried out alongside ESC volunteers from other Member States.
- the in-country phase allows us to systematically provide in-country linguistic support to volunteers, in order to better accompany them towards mobility and to integrate young people into international promotions.
- A single online platform would be created to serve as a one-stop shop for volunteers throughout the European Union.
As a youth movement and citizen initiative, the Collective for a European Civic Service proposes to coordinate the pilot project. The operational implementation should rely on important actors of the national civic service programs and on the ESC, within the same network.
In July 2020, the European Commission considered that the proposal was relevant but that certain conditions had to be met in order to obtain a qualifying grade (A or B) on two points: to verify that the proposed scheme could not be applied within the framework of the new rules of the European Solidarity Corps that will come into force from 2021 and to produce sufficient feedback on the experimentation projects in progress.
As the proposal did not receive the required qualifying grade (C), it could not be retained by the MEPs.
Having taken note of this advice, the Collective hopes to convince the European institutions of the relevance of its proposal in the future in order to give institutional and European visibility to this project. We will re-evaluate in 2021 our proposals in the framework of the new European Solidarity Corps and will continue to raise awareness among public authorities on the need for greater coordination between national civic services and the European Solidarity Corps.