Dear Colleagues,

Mid-February and it seems as if Spring is finally in the air. That should give us all a lift, despite the continuing COVID-19 crisis and lockdowns all over Europe. I do hope that this newsletter finds you and yours safe and well.

We are looking forward immensely to participating in the EESC Civil Society Days 2021, albeit on-line as usual. It will be a great way to showcase our members and volunteers, focusing on youth and preventing another lost generation, and the brilliant work they are continuing to do despite lockdown. Many thanks to Furkan for coordinating the preparations and for continuing his internship with us. More details in the body of the newsletter.

I am continuing to represent Volonteurope on the Lifelong Learning Platform; the platform is planning a number of events in 2021 so look out for details of training and conferences later in the year.  I am participating in a working group to consider changes to the internal rules of the platform; this may sound very boring but it is so important to have clear guidance for the secretariat and members so that they are confident that the organisation is operating as efficiently as possible and following statutory regulations.

The European Civic Forum is running monthly drop-in conversations on various topics as a way of keeping members involved. If you are interested, the next one will be on Friday 26 February from 10 to 12 pm CET.  The topic is around the idea of universal basic income and two speakers have been invited. Details below if you are interested to join the discussion.

  • Andrea Fumagalli, associate professor of Economics at University of Pavia and founder of the ECI for Unconditional Basic Income
  • Benoît Hamon, former candidate at the French Presidential Election, founder of the movement Génération.s and initiator of the idea of a Universal Income in France.

Here is the link to the virtual meeting room.  To join the Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89572296304   Meeting ID: 895 7229 6304

Some updates on our work in the Council of Europe. This April, elections will be held to the Conference of INGOs Standing Committee and I am really delighted to be able to nominate Piotr as a candidate. He has already received the backing of many European networks, including Lifelong Learning Platform and PICUM, and I hope you join me in wishing him good luck in the elections.

Piotr is also continuing in his duties as President of Social Platform and today, he is speaking on behalf of Social Platform at the Informal EPSCO meeting of national ministers for employment and social affairs. As civil society we strive to be recognised as an equal partner in European and national decision-making, and the fact that Portugal, currently holding the Council Presidency, is sending a strong message of ensuring there is a level playing field of civil society organisations.

Last but not least, at Volonteurope, we await details of a couple of funding opportunities and of course, details of the new European Commission programme, Citizenship, Equality, Rights and Values. We will be in touch whenever we have any news of these and we will also shortly announce the date of our General Assembly, which we are likely going to hold in early June 2021.

Best wishes,

Oonagh