A new requirement obliging youth organisations to have a paid employee to get EU funding has left twelve out of sixteen European students’ organisations without EU support.
A slight change in the eligibility criteria for EU funding
granted to International Youth NGOs has decreased the number of
grants to student NGOs by seventy-five per cent within one year
(from 2002-2003), a new report shows.
The new requirement of having at least one paid member of staff
in order to qualify for EU financial support has "influenced the
diversity of supported organisations by removing all organisations
that are not linked to political parties or religious groups from
the scope of EC funding", the report says. It shows that, of the
four student organisations being funded, one is from a political
party and three are from religious groups.
The twelve organisations affected by cuts in funding, including
the European students' forum (AEGEE) representing 17,000 students,
will have to dramatically scale down their activities. They will
have to reallocate most of their work towards finding resources
from the private sector, which could have side-effects on their
The organisations hit by the cuts wonder why the Commission is
repeatedly pushing for more recognition for volunteering work by
the Member States and then punishing them on the grounds that they
are run by volunteers.
They have warned that, if they change their structures to fulfil
the criteria of having one employee, the money they will be given
by the EU will be used solely to pay that person rather than
carrying out the activities for which they were established.
The report concludes with a set of recommendations to help the
European Commission become more coherent in supporting
international youth organisations. Asked to comment on the concerns
expressed by students' organisations, the EU executive has said
that it wants funding to be more qualitative and will keep the
criteria of having paid staff as it usually ensures that funds are
better managed. The Commission will however meet with the
organisations before publishing its next call for proposals.