Staff in the EU institutions have launched a fundraising drive on Europe Day 2021, urging colleagues to support those across the continent who are hardest hit by the pandemic. For the EU Staff COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, the campaign caps a year in which over 1,200 civil servants have demonstrated the practical solidarity that Robert Schuman saw as the foundation for a peaceful new Europe.
The EU Staff COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, has raised over 600,000 euros in personal donations in just over 12 months from EU staff. But from May 9th, when the European Union celebrates Schuman’s ground-breaking postwar proposal in 1950 to merge key French and German assets, organisers aim to double the number of donors by asking existing contributors each to sign up a colleague to the cause.
“Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.”
Robert Schuman, 9th May 1950
Bruno Mola, one of the founders of the Fund, recalled Schuman’s view that Europe would be built not by some grand scheme but through concrete actions that bring people together. He said: “Our initiative’s ambition is to participate in the creation of this European solidarity, which is why we call on our donors to help us reach out to other colleagues who might not have heard about our fund yet.”
David O’Sullivan, a former Secretary General of the European Commission who chairs the Fund’s management committee, said: ”Thanks to the collaboration with the KBF, it has been possible to identify many excellent projects and to ensure the rapid disbursement of funds with a real impact on the work of local charities addressing the challenges of the pandemic on the front line.”
Thirty-five organisations in 11 countries have benefitted so far. They include Faros, helping unaccompanied children seeking asylum in Athens in the midst of the pandemic, and Pe Stop, providing masks and menstrual products for Romanian women hard hit by the economic slump triggered by the virus.
The appeal to step forward and help personally as “Europeans among Europeans” has already struck a chord with staff whose motivation is to serve the public regardless of frontiers but who are often portrayed as a distant and uncaring elite by the growing ranks of nationalist, Eurosceptic critics of Schuman’s vision.