The EESC welcomes the establishment of "Aid Volunteers" initiative as it encourages EU citizens to participate in humanitarian activities, especially through civil society organisations. This initiative should facilitate the involvement of Member States with less experience in humanitarian activities and for this to happen specific actions to promote the participation of volunteers from these countries and to foster their social and humanitarian organisations should be carried out The EESC stresses that the existence of different laws on voluntary action in the various Member States could have a negative impact on the Aid Volunteers initiative.
The EESC endorses views expressed in the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid regarding the objectives and assets of humanitarian action and expresses its conviction that humanitarian aid includes protecting people affected by humanitarian crises, maintaining their dignity and respecting their rights. The Committee stresses the genuine nature of voluntary action which should not be confused with other types of action involving work Volunteer involvement must always be needs-based, following an analysis and assessment of the situation and the needs of populations affected by disasters or complex crises.
The Commission proposal for a regulation emphasises the need to establish standards for all stages in the process of volunteer participation. The EESC shares this concern and suggests basing these standards on good practices in the humanitarian sector and existing high-quality initiatives. The EESC supports the need to develop certification mechanisms for organisations based on the humanitarian sector's experience and cumulative expertise. Certification criteria such as transparency, accountability, free competition and equal opportunities should also apply – albeit in an adapted form – to hosting organisations in the affected countries.
The EESC believes that in addition to technical vocational training, there is a need to provide and prioritise training in values, respect for the affected populations, intercultural considerations, respect, and the psychosocial dimension of aid etc. Participation of businesses having experience in corporate or other types of volunteering has to be studied in order to enhance the role played by SMEs in this field.