Following on the heels of the recommendation of the ILO Manual by the European Commission, we are delighted to announce that on 3 October 2011 the Council of the European Union officially invited Member States to measure volunteering and recognized the ILO Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work as a useful tool for the European Commission to consider.
In their Conclusions on the Role of Voluntary Activities in Social Policy, the Council, while considering that voluntary activities “need to be clearly distinguished from paid employment and should by no means replace it” and “can not replace the overall responsibility of the state to ensure and provide economic, social and cultural rights”, invited Member States to:
“Consider encouraging production, publishing, and sharing of research tools/methodologies and results concerning voluntary activities and active citizenship, along with statistical data including studies on the impact of voluntary activities on the economic and social condition of the Member States and social well-being, also taking into account the gender dimension.”
And the Council invited the European Commission to:
“Analyse the system of existing indicators concerning voluntary activities and their role in relevant EU policies, taking into account the gender dimension, and consider where appropriate to look for statistical tools, e.g. the ILO Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work, to ensure comparable data and indicate, where appropriate, current or new areas of voluntary activities which require closer cooperation with the EU.”
This recognition of the importance of measuring volunteering represents a significant development for the EVMP partners and supporters working to bring information about the scale of volunteer activities, and the importance of measuring them, to the attention of EU institutions.
The Council’s Conclusions underscore the multiple important roles volunteering plays in European society and the promotion of European identity, including “its contribution to the development of active citizenship, democracy, social cohesion and therewith to implementation of the basic values and principles of the European Union, namely: solidarity, sustainable development, human dignity, equality and subsidiarity” and identified volunteering as a factor in the achievement of the “Europe 2020″ strategy objectives “by supporting social inclusion and learning as well as through activities enhancing employability” while not serving as a means to replace paid employment or the overall responsibility of the state.
The Conclusions offer civil society and volunteering groups yet another powerful tool for encouraging European statistics officials to consider implementing the ILO Manual and measuring volunteering at the national level. We encourage you to disseminate this information to your third sector partners and statistical office contacts to highlight the clear signal being sent to Member States to pursue the implementation of the ILO Manual.
We urge government officials to consider these conclusions and concretely assess the possibility of implementing standard systems of volunteer measurement in your countries. Please contact us for details regarding the document, technical issues around implementation of the Manual, or suggestions for lobbying or networking actions in your country or Europe-wide.
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