Ladies and gentlemen,
As I congratulate you all today on the anniversary of the European Voluntary Service, I do so from the heart. This is because your actions embody something that can only come from the heart: solidarity. Through the European Voluntary Service, you are practising solidarity, something which is incredibly valuable. I am sure that you, the volunteers, but also all those who work with you, will quickly come to see how much these experiences will enrich your entire life. This form of learning, via projects open to young people of the most diverse educational backgrounds, provides completely new professional opportunities and important skills going well beyond what textbooks will offer. For volunteers such as yourselves, thinking beyond borders, tackling problems together and building cultural bridges goes without saying.
However, such nobleness of the heart not only benefits every one of us; it also benefits Europe as a whole. Those who help out at a nursery or hospital or with an environmental, sports or social project are not only supporting children, caring for the sick or saving the environment. Those who work as volunteers are living European values each and every day. Over the last 20 years, some 100 000 young people have already become ambassadors of the European idea thanks to the European Voluntary Service, doing so not only in Europe but also outside in the wider world. We now wish to expand this recipe for success by setting up a European Solidarity Corps, enabling young people from across the EU to offer help where it is most urgently needed, for example in disaster prevention or in overcoming social challenges such as the refugee crisis. In whatever way young people become involved, it is always more than just something that stands out on your CV. It is always also a contribution to the future, towards a better Europe, and for this, I offer you my sincerest thanks!