Launched by the European Commission in December 2016 the European Solidarity Corps is aimed at 18 to 30 year olds who want to help make a difference by volunteering or working for a good cause. Over 40,000 people from all EU Member States have signed up in the first year with over 2,000 of them starting placements. In August 2017, for example, a group of volunteers went to Norcia in Italy, to help with the on going efforts to repair damage and rebuild social services for the local community affected by the severe earthquakes that had hit the region a year earlier. In other examples participants are working with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds or with special needs, with refugees or with the elderly. If you are interested in participating find out more here.
On Friday, December 8th, the European Commission recommended to the European Council that sufficient progress has been made in the first phase of the Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom. The European Council meeting on December 15th will formally decide if this is the case, allowing negotiations to proceed to the second phase. The European Commission recommendation follows the Joint Report agreed by the European Commission negotiation team led by Michel Barnier and the United Kingdom Government.
The European Commission believes sufficient progress has been made in the three priority areas of citizen’s rights, Ireland and the financial settlement as laid out in the European Council Guidelines of 29th April 2017. You can read details of the Commission’s assessment at the state of progress of the negotiations here. Related documents are also available.
You may also be interested in: the statement made by the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, following the recommendation made by the European Commission.
The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) produces research briefings on a wide range of issues, including on EU and International Affairs. These are intended to aid Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) by providing relevant impartial up-to-date background material on topics relevant to their work. However, the briefing papers are useful to anyone starting to research a current issue.