On 18th of September, AEGEE-Europe was present at an official launch of the European Charter for Rights and Responsibilities of Volunteers in the European Parliament, represented by Vice President and External Relations Kathrin Renner, Secretary General Lucille Rieux and President Luis Alvarado Martinez.
This Charter is an initiative lead by the European Youth Forum (YFJ) as a follow up of the European Year of Volunteering 2011. That year had 4 main objectives:
1) Create an enabling and facilitating environment for volunteering.
2) Improve quality of volunteering.
3) Improve recognition of volunteering.
4) Raise awareness of the value and importance of volunteering.
This initiative was supported by the Members of the European Parliament Marian Hanking and Quatrain Nevedalova and the whole event was chaired by the European Youth Forum.
This Charter explains all the rights volunteers have across Europe in a very detailed and user friendly way. It is a new advocacy tool, to help both volunteers themselves and youth organizations improve the rights and situation of volunteers throughout Europe.
As we know or even encountered before, volunteering lacks recognition from institutions and the corporate sector. In some countries we have tax problems for volunteers, sometimes they don’t have insurance during their voluntary activity, etc.
At the moment, the rights of volunteers are still not officially recognised by the European Union but this Charter is the first step of a big media campaign by all Civil Society Organizations and where AEGEE-Europe is actively involved. With this campaign, we hope to raise awareness and make the EU institutions give the needed attention to this important topic.
Why is AEGEE interested in this initiative? How to use the Charter internally?
– We are volunteers; the situation all over Europe is very different and therefore, we do not all benefit from the same rights and responsibilities.
– It can and should help all our members to improve the rights and situation of volunteers in your locality, city, region, country.
Have a look at the charter here: http://ec.europa.eu/youth/news/europeancharterontherightsandresponsibilitiesofvolunteers_en.htm
Check out what is the situation in your country like. If you have the feeling it can and should be improved, you can use the charter to back up your request.
It is important for volunteering to become a structured and recognised activity in Europe. Everybody should have the opportunity to become a volunteer during their life, and most importantly, they should know their rights once they participate.
It is important for us, international organizations like AEGEE, to pass on the message, educate ourselves about what our rights are and to promote volunteering around Europe, as a contribution to society and building of European citizens.
Kathrin, Lucille and Luis
Written by Kathrin Renner, Lucille Rieux and Luis Alvarado Martinez, all members of the Comité Directeur 2012-2013