Following the outcomes of last week’s elections to the European Parliament, the only directly elected Institution of the European Union, we have witnessed a major degree of disillusion with the current way that EU operates. There has been a worrying shift to the right, and, in some cases, the extreme far right. This poses a serious threat to the values of solidarity, cooperation, tolerance and respect for people’s rights across Europe.

Volonteurope, European network promoting volunteering, active citizenship and social justice, believes that now, more than ever, there is a need for civil society to work ever-more-closely together with those in the European Parliament who wish to continue strengthening democracy and social inclusion, and fight xenophobia, racism and all forms of prejudice in Europe.

As a member of Social Platform, in the last few days Volonteurope has supported the Joint Statement of ENAR calling for the establishment of an Anti-Racism Intergroup in the European Parliament. Such an Intergroup would strengthen the Parliament’s capacity to take robust action against racism, through coordinated efforts of democratically-elected MEPs.

Volonteurope will also be calling for the creation of an Intergroup on Volunteering, alongside other civil society networks, notably the European Alliance for Volunteering and other partners.

Lucy de Groot, Volonteurope’s President, said: “For Volonteurope, volunteering is one of the strongest and most visible expressions of active citizenship and social solidarity. It helps strengthen community cohesion and can be used to ensure that no one is left behind. Despite the potentially worrying outcomes of the elections and the challenges that lie ahead, we will continue working with our partners to build a strong civil society in Europe and promote volunteering as a mechanism for combating xenophobia, racism and prejudice.”