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European Charter for the Rights of Volunteers Finalised

Over 100 million people in Europe are volunteers and 4 out of 5 European citizens see volunteering as an active part of democratic life in Europe. Most European countries however, lack a legal framework for safe and sustainable volunteering. In line with the important role that volunteers play in Europe, a Charter on the Rights and Responsibilities of Volunteers has been finalised by the volunteering Working Group, following consultation with a wide-range of partners, other stakeholders and volunteers themselves. The Charter serves as an appeal to local, national and European authorities to design and update of policies relating to volunteering. The Charter gives guidance on the rights and responsibilities that volunteers and volunteer providers should undertake and defines the roles of authorities at all levels.

The EU Parliament’s Education and Culture committee has put its support behind the new Charter, suggesting Member States use the Charter as a reference for policymaking and national legislation in this field. The Committee has also called on Member States to ensure that the rights and responsibilities of volunteers are recognised and respected and ensure volunteer’s awareness of these rights and responsibilities. The Charter was finalised on 19th and 20th May at the Meeting of the Working Group on Volunteering. The meeting also discussed the proposal for a new Alliance on Volunteering. The Working Group gave input on a draft work programme for the new Alliance as well as the proposed legal structure.

The finalised Charter was developed in the framework of the Second Youth Convention on Volunteering which took place in September 2011 and formed the largest civil society event organised during the European Year of Volunteering. The Charter was discussed at the Convention, during a high-level stakeholder conference on the rights and responsibilities of volunteers The European Youth Forum believes that volunteering plays an integral role in social inclusion and active citizenship in Europe. The Forum advocates for the adoption and implementation of the European Charter on the Rights and Responsibilities of Volunteers by public authorities, in cooperation with volunteers and their organisations.

Useful links:

“European Charter on the Rights and Responsibilities of Volunteers”

“Draft Report on ‘Recognising and promoting cross-border voluntary activities in the EU’”, European Parliament Committee on Culture and Education, 7th February 2012

“Resolution on the rights-based approach to volunteering”, European Youth Forum, 17th-20th November 2011