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European Year of Voluntary Activities Promoting Active Citizenship (2011)

This decision designates the year 2011 as the European Year of Voluntary Activities Promoting Active Citizenship. With a view to developing social solidarity and democracy, the Year aims to create conditions that enhance the participation of civil society in voluntary activities, as well as to increase the visibility of volunteering.


Council Decision 2010/37/EC of 27 November 2009 on the European Year of Voluntary Activities Promoting Active Citizenship (2011).


This decision designates the year 2011 as the European Year of Voluntary Activities * Promoting Active Citizenship. Volunteering is one of the central elements of active citizenship, and active citizenship strengthens social cohesion and develops democracy. The year 2011 is also the tenth anniversary of the United Nations (UN) International Year of Volunteers (2001).

Objectives of the European Year 2011

The general aim of the Year is to improve the visibility of, and the opportunities for civil society to participate in, voluntary activities in the European Union (EU). To this end, the Year provides support to local, regional and national authorities to exchange experiences and good practices. In particular, the Year aims at:

  • creating an environment that encourages volunteering;
  • providing organisers with means to improve the quality of voluntary activities;
  • developing the recognition of voluntary activities;
  • raising awareness of the importance of volunteering.

Initiatives of the European Year 2011

In order to achieve its objectives, the Year supports initiatives organised at the EU, national, regional and local levels. These include:

  • exchanges of experience and good practice;
  • commission of studies and research, including dissemination of results;
  • awareness-raising events and conferences;
  • concrete initiatives organised at national level to promote the objectives of the Year;
  • promotional campaigns.

EU-wide initiatives are financed either partly or in full from the general budget of the EU. National initiatives are co-financed by the EU, while non-financial support is also available. The budget allocated for the Year amounts to EUR 8 000 000.

Cooperation during the European Year 2011

Each EU country designates a national coordinating body to organise its participation in the Year. The national coordinating bodies are responsible for preparing the national programmes and priorities for the Year. To this end, they must consult and cooperate with all relevant stakeholders.

In order to fulfil the objectives of the Year, the European Commission may cooperate with any relevant international organisation, such as the UN or the Council of Europe.

Coordination of the European Year 2011

The European Commission is responsible for the management of the Year at the EU level. It convenes meetings of stakeholders operating in the field of volunteering to assist it in this work. The Commission also organises meetings with the national coordinating bodies, with a view to coordinating activities at the national level.


In December 2006, the European Economic and Social Committee adopted an opinion, which called on the European Commission to designate a year of volunteers.

In July 2008, the European Parliament adopted a declaration, which called for the year 2011 to be designated as the European Year of Volunteering.

Key terms used in the act

  • Voluntary activities: all types of voluntary activity, whether formal, non-formal or informal, that is undertaken of a person’s own free will, choice and motivation, and is without concern for financial gain.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2010/37/EC



OJ L 17 of 22.1.2010

Last updated: 24.03.2010