In this opinion, the EESC underlines that volunteering involves millions of citizens in the European Union, acting out of solidarity for others, individually or within organised structures (both informal and formal). This movement requires systematic and thoughtful support, at both EU and Member State level, because its impact on social development is many times greater than the potential cost. The activity of volunteers has real economic value; in many social spheres volunteers are necessary to ensure the basic needs of citizens, including their safety; volunteers play a crucial role in implementing all the UN Sustainable Development Goals; and volunteers are present in every social and age group. The EESC therefore thinks it is unreasonable to limit EU-level and EU-funded volunteer support programmes to just young people. The EESC calls on the European Commission to take action to declare 2025 the European Year of Volunteers, considering that this would be a way of paying tribute to the millions of volunteers who have demonstrated their significant social role, especially in recent months through their work to combat the effects of the pandemic, and of further promoting the idea of volunteering in the societies of the Member States.