As part of a European Parliament initiative by independent MEP Marian Harkin a written declaration was launched in the Parliament today, Wednesday, April 9th, calling for the year 2011 to be declared European Year on Volunteering.
The call is part of a campaign by deputy Harkin to achieve official recognition of volunteering in the EU and its right as an economic and social driver to be recognised and reflected in EU policies.
"Internationally the voluntary and Not for Profit sectors constituted an economic contribution of an average 5% of GDP in 8 countries ranging from the United States to the Czech Republic" she said.
This was equal to the contribution of the finance and construction sectors of the countries involved, she said. As such the volunteering and not for profit sectors were recognised in many countries which now produced 'satellite accounts' alongside their national accounts, Marian Harkin said.
"Over 100 million people in the EU participate in voluntary activity including 1.5 million in Ireland, and this represents a huge contribution to the economic and social life of all countries and, in some cases, compensates for lack of action by Governments", she said.
The written declaration launched today in the European Parliament by Deputy Harkin and four other MEPs from the main political groups seeks the support of MEPs to declare the year 2011 'European Year on Volunteering'. For this to be achieved more than half of the Parliament's 785 members will have to sign the declaration which, when achieved, will be forwarded for approval by the European Commission.
A report compiled by Deputy Harkin on volunteering will be voted upon in the European Parliament at the next plenary session in Strasbourg. "We need to add value at European level and ensure European policies recognise and support volunteers in their valuable work", Independent MEP Marian Harkin concluded