By the EESC Civil Society Organisations' Group

The informal and formal voluntary activities undertaken during the COVID-19 pandemic and the assistance provided to Ukrainian refugees have once again demonstrated the vital and holistic contribution volunteering makes to society. Volunteering plays a pivotal role in building social capital, social inclusion and cohesion. It is also an important source of self-development and the most obvious example of civic engagement and active citizenship.

At the conference on Volunteers – citizens building the future of Europe, which took place on 7 July 2022 in Gdańsk, Poland, participants therefore called, among other things, for: 

  • increased social awareness of the contribution of volunteering to European societies, for instance through the availability and sharing of reliable models and data that measure the economic contribution of volunteering, as well as its contribution beyond GDP;
  • the introduction of enabling policy and/or regulatory and legal frameworks, to be decided on a country-specific basis and in direct consultation with civil society organisations;
  • the provision of structured and sustainable funding and safe and good levels of support and infrastructure for volunteering;
  • volunteering to be put back onto the European political agenda, for instance by developing and actively supporting a more comprehensive European-wide voluntary programme, creating an EU-wide volunteering website and designating 2025 as the European Year of Volunteers.

The conference was organised by the EESC's Civil Society Organisations' Group, in liaison with several European and local partners. It brought together volunteers, researchers, representatives of national and European civil society organisations and public authorities, to discuss and share their experience of volunteering trends in the EU, public authority support for organisations and volunteers, and new forms of volunteering.

The complete set of conclusions and recommendations from the conference is available at: https://europa.eu/!KC4tFR