In continuation of the new EU Aid Volunteers Technical Assistance project embarked upon in February 2018, I joined Laura de Bonfils in Brussels at the start of this week to meet with representatives of EACEA and DG ECHO. In the weeks previously, the new EU Aid Volunteers consortium, made up of Alianza por la Solidaridad, GVC Onlus, Volonteurope, Action Aid Hellas, LVIA, Action Aid Italia and Imago Mundi had been interviewing organisations involved in the EU Aid Volunteers programme in order to propose a series of recommendations to put before DG ECHO and EACEA supporting and complementing the recommendations identified in the programme mid term review published in December 2017
The EU Aid Volunteers Initiative is already more than half way through its six year tenure, and as part of the Technical Assistance consortium partners’ commitment to ensuring the continuing efficiency and improvement of EU Aid Volunteers, we gathered opinions on the ongoing benefits and efficiency of the programme from twenty six organisations which have taken part in the initiative. The organisations ranged from Sending Organisations engaged in volunteer recruitment and deployment, Hosting Organisations working with European partners to create and implement projects, coordinating organisations working in Technical Assistance project consortia proving support to participant organisations, and to organisations preparing to undergo certification.
Partners in the new Technical Assistance project – +CARE – interviewed organisations using Skype and zoom, in order to gather a full picture of the successes and challenges of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. We looked at a number of factors regarding the sustainability of the initiative, basing the recommendations around:
- Effectiveness (more agile for CSOs and volunteers);
- Added Value for organisations and communities;
- Scope of Humanitarian Action;
- Main challenges;
- Architecture post 2020;
- Operational recommendations
As a result of these interviews, we produced a working document of recommendations which we presented to Svetlozara Kabaktchieva and Ruben Sanchez of DG ECHO, and Marta Sodano and Monika Bochenek of EACEA.
The agenda set aside time for DG ECHO and EACEA to react to the recommendations, and for open discussion. This allowed the consortium and the representatives to further explore the recommendations, to propose some answers and solutions going forward, and also to highlight the recent Commission announcement for the proposals for the post 2020 MFF, that see EU Aid Volunteers as part of the new European Solidarity Corps, which can be found here.
DG ECHO and EACEA remained very receptive to suggestions for programme improvement, while also highlighting the limited possibility for significant change within the programme’s final two years of execution. However, the meeting was very fruitful, with very useful comments and reactions to our working document. We are now in the process of updating the working document and finalising our recommendations, which we will disseminate. We would also like to express gratitude to the twenty six organisations that took the time to commit to interviews – the insights provided were very valuable, and will endeavour to represent them appropriately in the final document.