Council Decision of 27 November 2009 on the European Year of Voluntary Activities Promoting Active Citizenship (2011) (2010/37/EC)

Council Decision of 27 November 2009 on the European Year of Voluntary Activities Promoting Active Citizenship (2011) (2010/37/EC)


Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Article 308 thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the Commission,

Having regard to the Opinion of the European Parliament(1),


  1. The Treaty establishes citizenship of the European Union (EU), which complements national citizenship of the respective Member States and is an important element in strengthening and safeguarding the process of European integration.

  2. Encouraging active citizenship is a key element in strengthening cohesion and the development of democracy.

  3. The European Year of Voluntary Activities promoting active citizenship will contribute to showing that volunteering is one of the key dimensions of active citizenship and democracy, putting European values such as solidarity and non-discrimination into action and as such contributing to the harmonious development of European societies.

  4. Voluntary activities constitute a rich learning experience, enable the development of social skills and competences and contribute to solidarity. Actions carried out by volunteers of all ages are crucial to the development of democracy, one of the founding principles of the EU. Voluntary activities have the potential to contribute to the well-being of individuals and the harmonious development of European societies.

  5. Having due regard to the particularities of the situation in each Member State and all forms of volunteering, the term ‘voluntary activities’ refers to all types of voluntary activity, whether formal, non-formal or informal which are undertaken of a person’s own free will, choice and motivation, and is without concern for financial gain. They benefit the individual volunteer, communities and society as a whole. They are also a vehicle for individuals and associations to address human, social, intergenerational or environmental needs and concerns, and are often carried out in support of a non-profit organisation or community-based initiative. Voluntary activities do not replace professional, paid employment opportunities but add value to society.

  6. In fast-changing societies there is a need to ensure effective support measures for voluntary activities to allow more people to engage in voluntary activities. It is therefore important to support peer learning and the exchange and development of good practices at local, regional, national and Community levels.

  7. The 1997 Intergovernmental Conference adopted Declaration 38 on voluntary activities, which was attached to the Final Act of the Treaty of Amsterdam and recognises the important contribution made by voluntary service activities to developing social solidarity.

  8. In its Communication of June 1997 on promoting the role of voluntary organisations and foundations in Europe, the Commission emphasised three aspects of voluntary organisations and foundations: the economic aspect of creating jobs; the social aspect of helping to define social policies and thereby contributing to social progress; and the political aspect, fostering democracy, citizenship and civic participation.

  9. In the Resolutions of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council of 27 June 2002 and of 16 November 2007 and in the Recommendation of 20 November 2008, the Council and the Member States recognised voluntary activities as a key aspect in the field of youth and agreed on common objectives for voluntary activities of young people as well as on the mobility of young people across the EU.

  10. In its Opinion of 13 December 2006‘Voluntary activity: its role in European society and its impact’(2), the European Economic and Social Committee asked the Commission to announce a Year of Volunteers, and to publish a White Paper on voluntary activity and active citizenship in Europe at the earliest opportunity.

  11. In March 2008, the European Parliament adopted a report on the ‘Role of voluntary activities in contributing to economic and social cohesion’ which encouraged Member States and regional and local authorities to recognise the value of voluntary activities in promoting social and economic cohesion.

  12. In July 2008 the European Parliament adopted a written Declaration calling for a European Year of Volunteering in 2011.

  13. Voluntary activities are targeted by several community programmes and networks that focus, inter alia, on mobility in voluntary activities for people of all ages, such as the Lifelong Learning Programme(3), the programme ‘Europe for Citizens’(4) and the European Voluntary Service of the Youth in Action Programme(5).

  14. There exists a large variety of voluntary activities throughout Europe which should be preserved and developed further.

  15. The potential of voluntary activities is still not fully realised. A European Year of Voluntary activities promoting active citizenship will provide the opportunity to demonstrate in a European context that voluntary activities increase civic participation and can help foster a sense of belonging and commitment of citizens to their society at all levels — local, regional, national and European.

  16. The Year of Voluntary activities promoting active citizenship could also contribute to addressing gender inequalities in the voluntary sector, for example regarding the sectors and activities in which men and women participate or concerning representation in voluntary leadership positions.

  17. The year 2011 will be the tenth anniversary of the 2001 International Year of Volunteers of the United Nations.

  18. This Decision establishes a financial envelope, which is to constitute the prime reference for the budgetary authority within the meaning of point 37 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management(6).

  19. The objectives of the proposed European Year cannot be fully achieved at Member State level due to the need for transnational exchange of information and the Community-wide dissemination of good practice, and can therefore, by reason of the scale of the proposed action, be better achieved at Community level. In accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty, this Decision does not go beyond what is necessary to achieve those objectives,


Article 1 Subject

The year 2011 shall be designated as the European Year of Voluntary activities promoting active citizenship (hereinafter referred to as ‘the European Year’).

Article 2 Objectives

The overall purpose of the European Year shall be to encourage and support — notably through the exchange of experience and good practices — the efforts of the Community, the Member States, local and regional authorities to create the conditions for civil society conducive to volunteering in the European Union (EU) and to increase the visibility of voluntary activities in the EU.

The objectives of the European Year shall be to:

  1. work towards an enabling environment for volunteering in the EU in order to anchor volunteering as part of promoting civic participation and people-to-people activities in an EU context and address existing obstacles to voluntary activities, where appropriate and necessary;

  2. empower organisers of voluntary activities to improve the quality of voluntary activities in order to facilitate voluntary activities and help organisers to implement new types of voluntary activities and to encourage networking, mobility, cooperation and synergies within civil society and between civil society and other sectors in an EU context;

  3. recognise voluntary activities in order to encourage appropriate incentives for individuals, companies and volunteer-development organisations and gain recognition for volunteering at EU level and in the Member States by policymakers, civil society organisations, public institutions, the formal and non-formal education sector and employers for skills and competences developed through volunteering;

  4. raise awareness of the value and importance of volunteering in order to raise general awareness of the importance of volunteering as an expression of civic participation which contributes to issues which are of common concern of all Member States, such as a harmonious societal development and social cohesion.

Article 3 Initiatives involved


The measures to be taken to achieve the objectives set out in Article 2 may include the following initiatives organised at Community, national, regional or local level linked to the objectives of the European Year:

  1. exchange of experience and good practices;

  2. undertaking of studies and research as well as dissemination of their results;

  3. conferences and events to promote debate and raise awareness of the importance and value of voluntary activities stimulating the engagement of citizens and to celebrate the efforts of volunteers and their organisations;

  4. concrete initiatives in the Member States aimed at promoting the objectives of the European Year; at least 25 % of the total budget of the year will be used for this purpose;

  5. information and promotion campaigns to disseminate key messages.

Details of the measures referred to in the first subparagraph are set out in the Annex.


Community funding for projects may be given through existing Community programmes.

Article 4 Cooperation with the Member States

By 28 February 2010 each Member State shall designate a body responsible for organising its participation in the European Year (hereinafter referred to as ‘the national coordinating body’) and shall inform the Commission of that designation.

In carrying out its actions, in particular when drawing up the national programme, the national coordinating body shall closely consult and cooperate with a wide range of relevant stakeholders, including civil society organisations and where appropriate the national agencies or contact points of relevant Community programmes.

The national programme and priorities of the European Year shall be set out in accordance with the objectives listed in Article 2 and the details of measures set out in the Annex.

Article 5 Coordination at Community level and implementation

Article 6 Financial provisions

Article 7 Budget

Article 8 International cooperation

Article 9 Consistency and complementarity

Article 10 Protection of Community financial interests

Article 11 Monitoring and evaluation

Article 12 Entry into force