A new European Voluntary Corps to strengthen the EU's Humanitarian Aid

Following the mandate if the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Commission has adopted on 23 November a Communication aiming to establishing the European Voluntary Humanitarian Aid Corps. By this means, the Commission intends to enhance existing voluntary schemes through selection, training and deployment of volunteers.

The establishment of a Voluntary Corps for Humanitarian Aid is one of the innovations introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon, which reflects the growing popularity of volunteering across the Union, where around 23% of citizens over 15 years of age are engaged in voluntary activities. Commission's proposal for the establishment of this corps of volunteers also reflects the significant support expressed by citizens for humanitarian aid to the victims of conflict and disasters around the world.

The aim of the Voluntary Corps is to contribute to EU humanitarian aid operations. In addition, EVHAC will give Europeans another opportunity to help around the world, and will improve the visibility of Europe's "humanitarian face".

This service will provide strong synergies with with existing voluntary organisations and structures, helping to avoid duplication and funding diversion. To this end, the Corps will be demand-driven and needs-based, and will support local capacities. Aiming to maximize available resources, the Commission will continue to analyse the opportunities and possible forms of cooperation with relevant actors and will conduct an impact analysis on the cost-effectiveness as well as a social impact assessment of the areas in which the body can act.

The European Year of Volunteering 2011 will be the testing ground for implementing some of the ideas identified so far through pilot schemes. Before that, the Commission will launch late 2010 a public consultation in order to further the informal consultations already undergone with the parties involved. As a result a legislative proposal is expected in the coming year.