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Major conference on Volunteering 9:00 - 17:30 - Presidential Palace, Warsaw, Poland

To mark the first-ever Polish Presidency of the European Council and the European Year on Volunteering 2011, Group III will held an Extraordinary Meeting and conference at the prestigious Presidential Palace in Warsaw on Friday 30 September 2011, in collaboration with the Polish Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland and the European Commission.

The overarching theme of the conference was: "Europe of active citizens: volunteering". Over 230 participants attended, including a wide-ranging selection of Polish civil society organisations and 20 representatives from six Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldavia and Ukraine).

The opening session, chaired by the President of Group III Luca JAHIER, was addressed by the President of Poland, Bronisław KOMOROWSKI and László ANDOR, Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion along with Jolanta FEDAK, Minister for Labour and Social Policy and Irena WÓYCICKA, Undersecretary of State, Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland.

Following this, Prof. Lester SALAMON, Director of the Centre for Civil Society Studies at The Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies, Baltimore, Maryland (USA) delivered the Keynote address on the theme: "Putting Volunteer Work on the Economic Map of the World: Why and How".

The first of two thematic debates entitled: "State of volunteering in Europe: challenges and chances" presented up-to-date and current overviews on the following issues: The progress of the European Year on Volunteering; Corporate volunteering: is there a needed third party?; Volunteering as a tool for active ageing – 2011, and Youth volunteering: social construction of high quality kids.

The second major debate, during the afternoon, fell under the umbrella title of: "Effective cooperation for volunteering in Europe" and focused more on the operational barriers and obstacles to volunteering by looking at issues such as: Volunteering and the law: what's the use of regulation and how can it promote volunteering?; Long-term volunteering of young people with the assistance of the state; How to support volunteering?  Reflections on “division of labour” among different sectors and actors and Volunteering in Eastern Partnership countries: more public trust required

Finally, a panel of dignitaries and experts, including: President of the EESC, Staffan NILSSON. Radosław MLECZKO, State Undersecretary, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Mikayil ZEYNALOV, Chairman, Bridge to the Future Youth Union, Azerbaijan and Martijn PAKKER, Executive Group Member, YEV 2011 Alliance, reflected on the day's discussions and summarised some of the key points. The concluding remarks were given by Luca JAHIER, President of Group III.