European Voluntary Service
The European Voluntary Service enables young people to carry out voluntary service for up to 12 months in a country other than their country of residence. It fosters solidarity among young people and is a true ‘learning service’. Beyond benefiting local communities, volunteers learn new skills and languages, and discover other cultures. Non-formal learning principles and practice are reflected throughout the project.
An EVS project can focus on a variety of themes and areas, such as culture, youth, sports, social care, cultural heritage, arts, civil protection, environment, development cooperation, etc. High-risk interventions in immediate post-crisis situations (e.g. humanitarian aid, immediate disaster relief, etc.) are excluded.
The EVS Charter
The EVS Charter is part of the Youth in Action Programme Guide and highlights the roles of each promoter in an EVS project, as well as the main principles and quality standards of EVS. Each EVS promoter must adhere to the provisions set out in this Charter.
Promoters decide together - in line with this Charter - how to share tasks and responsibilities and the grant of the EVS Project. These divisions are formalised through an EVS Agreement between promoters.
For more information on the EVS Charter and the EVS Agreement, please consult section 'What else should you know about EVS?' under this Action.
What EVS is not
- occasional, unstructured, part-time volunteering
- an internship in an enterprise
- a paid job; it must not replace paid jobs
- a recreation or tourist activity
- a language course
- exploitation of a cheap workforce
- a period of study or vocational training abroad
What is a European Voluntary Service Agreement?
In order to guarantee the smooth and transparent implementation of an EVS project, promoters and volunteer(s) are obliged to formalise their distribution of tasks, responsibilities and share of the EU grant through an internal agreement, defined as an EVS Agreement. This Agreement also lays down the tasks, working hours and practical arrangements as well as the expected learning process and learning objectives of the volunteer(s). An EVS Agreement must contain the original signature of the legal representative of the Coordinating, Sending and Host Organisations as well as of the volunteer(s). All signatories should receive a copy of the Agreement; the Agreement is binding on all of them. Where there is doubt or dispute, the criteria and rules of EVS, as stipulated in the Programme Guide, shall prevail over the Agreement. The minimum requirements which must be contained in the EVS Agreement are defined in an Annex to the EVS Application Form, leaving up to promoters and volunteers the choice of format and level of detail of this document. In case of EVS projects involving more than one volunteer, promoters can decide either to make one single EVS Agreement between all promoters and volunteers involved in the project, or to develop separate Agreements entered only between the interested parties. The Coordinating Organisation must send a copy of the Agreement(s) to the National Agency or the Executive Agency which has selected the project. The EVS Agreement must be submitted either with the application form or at a later stage, but in all circumstances, no later than 6 weeks before the start of the EVS Service. In the latter case, different payment procedures apply to the grant agreement signed with the beneficiary (please consult Part C of this Guide).
What training and evaluation events must the EVS volunteer attend?
On-arrival training takes place upon arrival in the host country. It introduces volunteers to their host country and their host environment, helps them to get to know each other and supports them to create an environment that support learning and realising own project ideas. Duration is on average seven days.
Mid-term evaluation (only for Services lasting more than 6 months)
Mid-term evaluation provides volunteers with an opportunity to evaluate and reflect on their experience so far, as well as to meet other volunteers from different projects throughout the host country. Duration is on average two and a half days.
What additional training and evaluation is to be provided to EVS volunteers?
Pre-departure training is the responsibility of the EVS promoters (usually the Sending Organisation or the Coordinating Organisation) and gives volunteers an opportunity to talk about their expectations, develop their motivation and learning objectives, and obtain information on their host country and on the Youth in Action Programme. In addition, the National Agencies (or SALTO SEE and EECA) may organise a one-day pre-departure training aimed at establishing contacts with the outgoing volunteers.
Annual EVS event
All current and former EVS volunteers are strongly encouraged to take part in the annual EVS event organised by the National Agencies in the sending country (or SALTO SEE and EECA in the respective regions). This event serves as an evaluation meeting, "alumni" meeting and promotion event. Duration is 1-2 days.
How is the volunteer selection process carried out?
Volunteers are chosen regardless of their ethnic group, religion, sexual orientation, political opinion, etc. No previous qualifications, educational level, specific experience or more than basic language knowledge should be required. A more specific profile of the volunteer might be drawn up if justified by the nature of the tasks of the Service or by the project context but even in this case selection on the basis of professional or education qualifications is excluded.
Every EVS volunteer must be enrolled into the Group Insurance Plan for EVS volunteers foreseen by the Youth in Action Programme, which complements the coverage by national social security systems - if applicable. The Coordinating Organisation, in cooperation with the Sending and Host Organisations, is responsible for the enrolment of the volunteer(s). This enrolment must be done before the departure of the volunteer(s) and cover the duration of the Service. An insurance Guide including all the information on the coverage and support provided, as well as instructions on the online enrolment process, is available at www.europeanbenefits.com.
Every person who has taken part in EVS is entitled to receive a Youthpass Certificate, which describes and validates the non-formal and informal learning experience and outcomes acquired during the project (learning outcomes). Furthermore, Youthpass is to be considered as a process of becoming aware, reflecting on and documenting the learning within the different phases of the project. For more information on Youthpass, please consult Part A of this Guide as well as the Youthpass guide and further relevant material presented at www.youthpass.eu .
The European database on EVS accredited organisations