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The latest research for the European Union Youth Report in 2015 shows that around one in four (25%) young people across the EU were involved in some kind of voluntary activity. However, the same research shows that the rates of involvement were very differences between countries, with the highest over 40% and the lowest around 10%.

The following graph shows the different levels by EU country.

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The research also shows that as young people got older, fewer take part in any kind of voluntary activities. In 2014, across the EU, 29% of 15-19 year olds were active, but only 23% of 25-29 year olds.

The following graph shows the diversity of activities that young people undertook as volunteers, the most popular being related to charity, humanitarian and development aid projects, and activities related to education, training or sports:

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Who is responsible for community engagement?

Most community engagement and volunteering takes place at a local level, organised by groups such as NGOs, community groups, clubs and associations, and by local authorities. The responsibility for policies and laws concerning community engagement and volunteering lies with the national governments of the 28 EU Member States. This responsibility can also be passed down to regional and local governments, depending on how the country is organised.

The European Commissioner for Youth and the European Commission can help Member States to make improvements by suggesting new policies, conducting research, running projects, and sharing good practice between the different countries. This is done in cooperation with the Member States through the EU Youth Strategy, which has a specific section on Voluntary Activities.

As well as this, the European Commission runs the international volunteering initiatives European Voluntary Service (EVS) (part of the Erasmus+ programme) and EU Aid Volunteers. It also helps to promote volunteering through the European Youth Portal and by giving funding through the Erasmus+ programme.

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