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EU programme would train volunteers for humanitarian aid projects worldwide and set standards.

Thousands of Europeans already work abroad as volunteers, helping the victims of disasters and crises. Many more would like to get involved if they could.

The Commission is proposing a way for Europeans to help where most urgently needed by establishing an EU voluntary humanitarian-aid corps. The programme would provide practical training, set standards for managing volunteers and match them with humanitarian organisations.

Trained volunteers would increase the impact of EU humanitarian aid. European standards would come with a certification scheme, recognised by aid organisations.

About 10 000 Europeans would get training through the programme from 2014 to 2020. Another 10 000 would support the volunteers with tasks that can be done from home on a computer.

Volunteers would have to be over 18 and citizens or long-term residents in the EU or other participating European countries.

They may be looking to gain experience in the humanitarian sector, or be experts or retired workers with specialist skills. Training and deployment would depend on their level of experience.

The EU would also provide training to 7 000 local staff and volunteers in developing countries.

The EU would certify organisations that apply European standards for managing volunteers. The organisations would identify suitable projects and apply for grants to deploy EU volunteers.

Testing in the field

The Commission has been preparing the ground for the service since 2011 through pilot projects funded by its humanitarian aid arm (ECHO). The idea enjoys broad public support .

The projects have been exploring the different ways that the service could make the best use of volunteers in the field.

Trained European volunteers are now working in over 30 countries. One is Aine Lynch, working in Kurgan-Teppe, Tajikistan, as an education officer with Save the Children UK . Another is Olivia Defrene, a volunteer with the French Red Cross working in the Pacific nation of Vanuatu.

A second round of pilot projects began training volunteers this year.

More on the European Voluntary Corps

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