7 February 2017, Maastricht: YO!Fest 2017 :

Panel debate at the YO!Fest 2017 in Maastricht

Exactly 25 years after the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, more than 3000 young people from all parts in Europe gathered in Maastricht for the YO!Fest 2017.

AEBR Secretary General Martín Guillermo Ramírez spoke on that occasion in the panel debate session on volunteering and European Solidarity Corps.

Very interesting information was given about the implementation of the European Solidarity Corps, the new European Union initiative which creates opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in projects in their own country or abroad that benefit communities and people around Europe. EU Commission President Juncker announced that initiative last year  in his State of the Union Speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 14 September 2016, and the official launching and opening of the register took place last 7 December 2016. 

In the meantime, DG Regio has proposed an Interreg Volunteer Initiative and the AEBR has been working to shape this concept during the last month. Mr. Guillermo presented a briefing of that concept: IVY, the Interreg Volunteer Youth, which is proposed to be a pilot action to offer the possibility to young Europeans aged 18-30 to serve as volunteers in Interreg programmes (not only cross-border, but also transnational and interregional ones) and related projects.

The initiative is aimed at involving young European volunteers to support, promote and report the concrete achievements of Interreg, as well as generally promote Territorial Cooperation and related values —such as solidarity—. Volunteers’ activity will significantly contribute to show the positive impact cross-border, transnational or interregional programmes and related projects have on citizens’ daily life and the key role they play for the implementation of European values.

The pilot action will give volunteers the opportunity to familiarize with Interreg, make them aware of the many benefits of the collaboration among the 38 EU internal borders as well as enhance their sense of European solidarity, citizenship and civic engagement. 

This is a match-making initiative between committed volunteers who actively show their motivation to engage and genuine projects from all Interreg Programmes especially addressed to citizens (community-based projects). Candidates who actively show their will to join the Initiative as volunteers will be selected, and will be matched to relevant projects from all Interreg Programmes. Projects addressing citizen engagement, social cohesion and those paying a special attention to vulnerable groups will be particularly considered.

Further speakers in the panel were:

-Nafsika Vrettaki, European Youth Forum Board Member

-MEP Benifei Brando

-Mr Jimmy Jamar, Head of Representation of the European Commission in Belgium

-Michael Dejozé, EMR, Coordinator INTERREG project (Pilot project of DG REGIO)

-Gabriella Civico, Director of CEV

Moderation by WOSM (World Organisation of Scout Movement)

Mr Jamar introduced the European Solidarity Corps, MEP Brando brought up the EP perspective about volunteering; Civico gave some principles about successful volunteering and Vretakki gave the perspective of the Youth Forum.

For further information please visit:

- European Solidarity Corps: https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity_en

- YO!Fest is the political youth-led festival of the European Youth Forum. More information about the YO!Fest 2017: http://www.yofest.eu/

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