JEF Europe concerned about funding of the ‘Investing in Europe’s Youth’ initiative and the European Solidarity Corps
On 7 December, the European Commission launched the ‘Investing in Europe’s Youth’ initiative and the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) as legislative proposals to complement the approved EU Budget for 2017. In that respect, the non-partisan youth NGO “Young European Federalists [JEF] Europe” welcomes the two proposals yet raises two major concerns.
We welcome the €50 million funding increase for Erasmus+ and the provision of an additional €500 million for the Youth Employment Initiative, since these programmes are socially and economically inclusive and have a clear impact on youth unemployment. Yet, we are disappointed, particularly in light of the legislative package proposed today, that whilst the Council says it wants to invest in education and youth, it has slashed the Commission’s initial proposal for a €200 million funding increase for Erasmus+ in the Multiannual Financial Framework down to €100 million.
The funding of the European Solidarity Corps
JEF Europe recognises that the ESC can be an effective tool to foster citizen engagement and employability among young people, as intended by the division of the Corps into a volunteering and a professional pillar, and welcomes the proposed active involvement of NGOs and stakeholders. However, while we support the aims of increasing youth mobility and social engagement, we regret to see that the Commission continues to reallocate funds from existing programmes – i.e. Erasmus+ – to finance new initiatives. JEF Europe thus remains concerned about the funding and implementation of both the ‘Investing in Europe’s Youth’ package and the ESC.
According to Commissioner Navracsics, the ESC will – in the short term – be funded through dedicated calls within the European Voluntary Service framework (currently under Erasmus+), the Europe for Citizens programme, the LIFE programme, and the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, to name only a few. Furthermore, it remains unclear how much funding will be exactly dedicated to the Corps. We believe that the ESC – if implemented – should neither be a simple rebranding of initiatives like the European Voluntary Service, nor should it syphon off funds from existing projects dedicated to training, volunteering and migration.
Lack of civil society and NGO involvement
In the spirit of the Better Regulation Agenda – the Commission’s attempt for more transparent and effective EU law-making – JEF Europe urgently calls for a pre-emptive and thorough assessment of the financial feasibility and educational potential of initiatives like the Free Interrail Ticket and the ESC, as already stated in our Resolution of November 6, 2016. Indeed, much like for the proposal of a ‘free InterRail ticket for 18-year olds’, the involvement of civil society and NGOs in the consultation prior to the launch of the Corps has been weak at best.
In conclusion, while the ‘Investing in Europe’s youth’ package and the European Solidarity Corps seem to be commendable proposals in principle, we regret that funds will be diverted from established flagship European initiatives that have a tangible social impact, towards new and untried programmes with questionable outcomes.
Secretary General JEF Europe