European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ) on EU Aid Volunteers

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  • 1. Becoming an EU Aid Volunteer

    • 1.1. Who can become an EU Aid Volunteer?

      • The EU Aid Volunteers initiative is open to EU citizens and third country long-term residents in a Member State of, at least, 18 years of age. They can come from a wide range of backgrounds and with different experiences, from newcomers to experienced professionals. The selection of EU Aid Volunteers is determined by the humanitarian needs in the sector at the time of recruitment and guided by equal opportunities and non-discrimination principles.
    • 1.2. I am not an EU citizen – can I get involved?

    • 1.3. Are there any age restrictions?

      • The minimum age for volunteers is 18 and there is no upper limit.
    • 1.4. Do I need previous volunteering experience?

      • The profile for each volunteering placement will depend on the humanitarian needs of the hosting organisation and the context of deployment. You do not necessarily need previous volunteering experience. However, please refer to the vacancy profile you are interested in, in order to assess whether you are suitable for the position.
    • 1.5. Which professional profiles will be considered for the EU Aid Volunteers initiative?

      • Each assignment will have its specific competence requirements. Generally, there will be two main volunteer profiles within the EU Aid Volunteers initiative:
        • Junior professionals (fewer than 5 years of work experience)
        • Senior professionals (more than 5 years of work experience)
        Each assignment will either be senior or junior level. Some EU Aid Volunteers will have specialist knowledge relevant in the context of humanitarian aid such as logistics and transport, organisational development and capacity building, water and sanitation, protection and shelter, nutrition and health, disaster data and knowledge, medical and paramedical.
    • 1.6. I have never worked in a humanitarian setting. Can I apply?

      • You can apply if your profile matches the required competences as stated in the vacancy announcement. As a junior professional, you may be required to first spend up to six months in an organisation based in the EU in order to familiarise yourself with the humanitarian nature of your project.
    • 1.7. Will I be paid?

      • The programme covers your expenses during the deployment, including travel costs, insurances, and accommodation is provided. In addition, EU Aid Volunteers will receive a monthly subsistence allowance covering everyday expenses such as food, local transport and other expenses. Rates for these will depend on the country of deployment.
    • 1.8. Will I be trained?

      • Training of volunteers and strong security procedures are essential to the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. EU Aid Volunteers benefit from a centrally organised training programme where their readiness for deployment is evaluated. The training covers topics such as Introduction to the European Union, its external relations and crisis response system; Introduction to humanitarian action, the Union humanitarian aid policy and the EU Aid Volunteers; managing personal safety, health and security; Project management; inter-cultural awareness and a scenario-based exercise, with additional optional modules depending on the type of volunteer deployment.
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      • EU Aid Volunteers sending organisations are certified on safety and security protocols and volunteers are trained specifically on these aspects pre-deployment, are briefed in country and are fully insured while deployed as EU Aid Volunteers.
    • 1.9. Where can I apply?

      • Please note that the European Commission's department for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) does not recruit directly. The vacancies are published on the EU Aid Volunteers platform, and you will need to apply directly with the sending organisation in charge of the specific project/s you are interested in.
    • 1.10. When can I apply?

      • The deadlines for applying for each volunteer vacancy are specified in the vacancy notice. New vacancies are published regularly.
    • 1.11. What will EU Aid Volunteers do during their deployment?

      • The task assignment of each volunteer will be based on a prior needs assessment of the specific context of deployment. Each announcement for a placement will contain a detailed explanation of the activities to be performed during the deployment. Volunteers will work on different types of assignments, depending on their profile and experience. The activities performed by EU Aid Volunteers will be in fields such as organisational development and capacity-building, project management, disaster risk management support, food and nutrition, water and sanitation.
    • 1.12. Where will EU Aid Volunteers be deployed?

      • Deployment countries are defined for each EU Aid Volunteer assignment on the basis of real needs on a local level. Volunteers will be deployed to countries outside the EU where humanitarian aid operations take place. EU Aid Volunteers will not be deployed to countries or regions with international or non-international armed conflicts.
    • 1.13. For how long will I be volunteering?

      • The length of deployment depends on the specific project the volunteer works on. This can be from 1 month to 18 months. Please check the vacancies for specific assignments.

    • 1.14. I want to help but I can't leave my country/work?

      • You can still help! EU Aid Volunteers offers the chance to join an online volunteering platform, where volunteers have the chance to get in touch with organisations that need support that can be offered remotely. Specific online volunteering opportunities are published on our website.
    • 1.15. What is online volunteering?

      • The EU Aid Volunteers online volunteering platform is a tool that offers the opportunity to organisations and volunteers to get in touch and work together on specific assignments.
  • 2. Becoming a sending/hosting organisation

    • 2.1. What is the role of sending and hosting organisations?

      • Sending organisations are entrusted with all the aspects of identification, selection, preparation, deployment and management of EU Aid Volunteers. They shall ensure that the hosting organisation is consistently involved throughout the entire project life-cycle.
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      • Hosting organisations will receive the volunteers and are responsible for the induction phase, designating mentors and ensuring the provision of adequate accommodation and working conditions throughout..
    • 2.2. Is my organisation eligible for certification as sending/hosting organisation?

      • The EU Aid Volunteers initiative is open to organisation based in Europe and other countries who comply with the following criteria:

        Sending organisations must:
        • adhere to the standards and procedures of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative.
        • be active in the field of humanitarian aid.
        • belong to any of the following categories:
          • non-governmental not-for-profit organisations established in a EU Member State;
          • civilian public law bodies from a Member State;
          • the International Federation of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
      • Organisations established in candidate countries, potential candidates and partner countries of the European Neighbourhood Policy, countries members of the European Economic Area (EEA) could participate at a later stage only when these countries have signed agreements with the EU covering the programme.

        Hosting organisations must:
        • adhere to the standards and procedures of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative;
        • be active in the field of humanitarian aid.
        • belong to any of the following categories:
          • non-governmental not-for-profit organisations operating or established in a third country under the laws in force in that country;
          • public law bodies of a civilian character governed by the law of a third country;
          • international agencies and organisations.
    • 2.3. Why are organisations required to become certified under the EU Aid Volunteers initiative?

      • Each organisation wishing to take part in the EU Aid Volunteers programme is required to implement the high quality standards of volunteers management outlined in the EU Aid Volunteer legislation. This is a quality assurance indicator of the management of the initiative.
        Sending organisations need to complete an evidence-based self-assessment form, showing that they comply with and commit to all the standards and procedures of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative, in areas such as duty of care rule, health and safety, equality rules, amongst others.
        Hosting organisations need to complete a self-assessment form and submit it together with three references, in order to demonstrate their capacity to comply with and commit to the requirements of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative.
    • 2.4. Who can act as a reference for a hosting organisation?

      • To apply for certification, a hosting organisation must submit a completed self-assessment form for certification, accompanied by three references.
        The references shall be from a minimum of two of the following groups of stakeholders:
        1. A certified sending or hosting organisation with which the applicant hosting organisation has already had, or envisages to set up, a partnership for participation in the EU Aid Volunteers initiative;
        2. A humanitarian aid partner of the Commission with a framework (partnership) agreement in force, with whom the applicant hosting organisation has successfully worked on a humanitarian aid project;
        3. A relevant international organisation or not-for-profit organisation or public law body of a civilian character with which the applicant hosting organisation has successfully worked on a humanitarian aid project;
        4. An accreditation or auditing organisation that has certified the applicant hosting organisation in areas relevant for the EU Aid Volunteers initiative, in which case the relevant accreditation or auditing documents should also be provided.
        The 'reference template' is to be completed by organisations acting as references for the applying hosting organisations and submitted with the application package. An evaluation of the entire application package, including the provided references, will be undertaken by independent external experts.
    • 2.5. As a humanitarian organisation operating in third countries, is it possible to certify our country programme offices as hosting organisations?

      • Many European organisations have country offices in third countries. Where a certified sending organisation has a country programme office, registered in the third country and with its own legal entity, that country programme office is required to undergo individually the full certification procedure for hosting organisations.
        Where a certified sending organisation can prove that it operates in a third country and where this operation has no separate legal entity, the sending organisation can submit a simplified form for hosting organisation certification.
    • 2.6. What is the process for submitting applications for certifications?

      • The certification process is free of charge and organised on a rolling basis until September 2020, so no specific deadlines need to be respected.
        Within six months upon receipt of the completed application form, the EU Commission will communicate the outcome of the certification to the applicant organisation.
        Evaluation committees established to assess the submitted applications for certification meet monthly. In order for an application to be considered, it must arrive at the Agency's premises no later than 15 calendar days before the 1st day of the month in which the Evaluation Committee meeting takes place.
        Organisations that have failed certification can apply with priority for capacity building for hosting organisation and/or technical assistance for sending organisations.
        Unsuccessful organisations can resubmit an application for certification after 12 months.
        The self-assessment forms for certification are available in English and French only. However, we accept submissions of self-assessment forms completed in any of the official EU languages.
        Submission of self-assessment forms and accompanying evidence are to be sent electronically, using only the following email: EACEA-EUAID-VOLUNTEERS@ec.europa.eu. Acknowledgement of receipt is sent via email to all applying organisation.
    • 2.7. What is the Participant Identification Code (PIC)?

      • You need to register on the Participants Portal and obtain a Participant Identification Code (PIC) in order to apply for funding and certification in the framework of the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. The Participant Portal is the tool through which all legal and financial information related to organisations will be managed. Information on how to register can be found in the portal under the following address: http://ec.europa.eu/education/participants/portal/desktop/en/home.html.
    • 2.8. Can my organisation claim back staff or other costs related to providing the documents for certification?

      • No.
    • 2.9. What happens once my organisation has been certified?

      • Once you are certified as a sending or hosting organisation your organisation may participate in calls for proposals published under the EU Aid Volunteers initiative. Calls for proposals for deployment of EU Aid Volunteers are published on the websites of the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, and EACEA, and specify the geographic and thematic priorities of projects.
    • 2.10. What if my organisation fails to be certified?

      • Organisations that have failed certification can apply with priority for capacity building/technical assistance. Calls are published on the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, and EACEA websites. Unsuccessful organisations can resubmit an application for certification after 12 months.
    • 2.11. What is the difference between Technical Assistance and Capacity Building for sending and hosting organisations?

      • Technical assistance and Capacity building is a call to fund activities that strengthen capacities for sending and hosting organisations intending to participate in the EU Aid Volunteers initiative.
        Technical assistance is specifically aimed at building the capacity of organisations inside Europe and capacity building is aimed at building the capacity of organisations in countries outside Europe.
        Organisations may submit project proposals for both Technical assistance and Capacity building.
Last updated
17/08/2018