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European Voluntary Service for young people

The European Commission has launched a new pilot action initiating a European Voluntary Service for young people. The scheme, which will initially run to the end of 1997, is open to all young people aged 18-25 years. Under the scheme, young volunteers will have the opportunity...
The European Commission has launched a new pilot action initiating a European Voluntary Service for young people. The scheme, which will initially run to the end of 1997, is open to all young people aged 18-25 years. Under the scheme, young volunteers will have the opportunity to spend between six and 12 months getting to know another country, another culture and another language, by taking part in a project which contributes to the well-being of a local community.

The pilot action is based on two basic concepts:

- The promotion of voluntary service as an effective way of providing complementary educational and training opportunities to young people;
- The stimulation of local development projects.

A broad range of non-profit making activities in the social, cultural, environmental and other fields may be offered to young European volunteers. For those concerned at local level, this should help to develop existing projects or to create new ones.

Launching the pilot action, Mrs. Edith Cresson, Commissioner responsible for Education, Training and Youth, stressed the opportunities offered by the scheme for reinforcing European solidarity: "Europe is not just about high-level meetings. Grass roots activities are just as important to European construction. Young volunteers will have the chance to get involved in such activities, exchange ideas and experiences, and contribute their enthusiasm and creativity. They can help to lay the foundations for the future. In short, they can take part in the process as active citizens".

Community co-financing will be awarded to the projects which are selected in the framework of the pilot action for up to 50% of the total costs. Additional funding may be provided in exceptional circumstances in order to promote the participation of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Community funding may also be made available for a number of complementary activities such as national and regional seminars, meetings between young volunteers from different countries during their period of service, and information activities.

European Voluntary Service may progressively be extended to countries outside the European Union including: the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean region, Africa, Latin America and Asia.

A "National Structure" in each country will assist with the implementation of the pilot action. Each National Structure will act as an interface between the European Commission, project promoters at national, regional and local level, and the volunteers themselves. In addition, in order to ensure that the educational value of participation in European Voluntary Service is widely recognised, each young person who successfully completes a period of voluntary service within the framework of this scheme will receive an attestation of the skills and experiences they have acquired.
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