The European Solidarity Corps (ECS) is a volunteer program that offers projects foryoung people throughout the European Union. Volunteers work in non-profit organizations, whose fields of action may vary.

Nexes can help you find a volunteer mission. We gathered all the necessary information so that you can understand what the European Solidarity Corps is.


European Solidarity Corps: a European program for youth

The European Solidarity Corps is managed in Brussels by the Erasmus + program. The objective is to promote solidarity between the citizens’ countries of the European Union and their neighbors.

Conditions to take part in a European Solidarity Corps project

This program, as the name implies, is intended for all residents of the European Union and the partner countries of the Erasmus + program, including Switzerland.

At what age ?

To be able to do an ESC, you need to be between 17 and 30 years old. However, many projects only youth over 18, the majority of ESC volunteers are between 18 and 25 years old (the average being 22 years old).

What studies ?

Most projects don’t require any training or qualifications and are accessible to all, including new graduates and students. However, there are projects that require specific skills.

For language skills, and especially if you want to do an EVS in popular countries like Germany or Italya, mastering the local language is a real benefit. For other countries of action such as Slovenia, Lithuania or Finland, it is your ability to communicate in English that will be an asset, as there are simply very few applications from people speaking the official language of these countries.

What commitment period ?

The duration of an ESC mission is 2 to 12 months. In practice, however, the average duration of an CES is 9 months. There are also shorter-term programs for young people with fewer opportunities (if you are concerned, do not hesitate to read our section on this topic).

How much is it ?

European Solidarity Corps is one of the programs with the highest public subsidies from the European Union.

The volunteer’s benefit:
– A monthly allowance of 50 to 160 € depending on the country of action,
– A charge of transportation costs of at least 90%,
Lodging and food,
Language training,
Social protection,
Support for possible visa fees and vaccinations.

Country of action

It’s possible to find an European Solidarity Corps mission in the countries of the European Union and the partner countries of the Erasmus + program. These are usually other European countries, but there are also more distant partners like Israel or Morocco for example. 

To summarize, the eligible countries of action are
– The 27 countries of the European Union
Other Erasmus + countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Norway and Turkey

Neighboring Partner Countries of the EU: Western Balkans, Eastern Europe, Southern Mediterranean Countries, Russian Federation
–  The other partner countries in the world (very rare in fact)
A list of all these countries is available on the website of the European Commission

In fact, however, the overwhelming majority (93% in June 2018) of ESC missions are based in Europe. There are some around the Mediterranean (Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan), and almost none in Asia, America or Oceania.

Areas of intervention

The areas of intervention of ESC projects are very varied.

For example, you may be required to work in:
Social action (animation and care of children, the elderly or handicapped, homeless people, refugees …)
Protection of the environment and biodiversity,
Art and culture,
Sport and recreation,
Education and politics, etc. 

How to apply for a European Voluntary Service?

To take part an ESC, it is necessary to
Find a sending organization that is responsible for assisting volunteers in their investigations and administrative procedures. 
Find a host organization with projects that correspond to young people in another European country

In summary, here are the steps you will have to take:
1- Search for a sending organization
2- Search of a project
3- Apply to a host organization
4- Selection
5- Application for funding and the approval procedure

Special case: projects for young people in difficulty

There are short-term ESC projects (2 weeks to 2 months), reserved for “young people with fewer opportunities“.  

This target group include people who:
– suffer from discrimination
– are in a difficult financial or family situation
– with disabilities
– have financial difficulties
– come from isolated or rural areas