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EACEA National Policies Platform
Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina

2. Voluntary Activities

2.5 Cross-border mobility programmes

Last update: 15 May 2024

EU programmes

The BiH Ministry of Civil Affairs is an institution that, among other things, has a mobility sector in its scope of work and is responsible for monitoring the participation of BiH in various EU programs. Currently, BiH participates in 8 EU programs that cover different forms of projects and mobility (through formal, non-formal education, and through projects from different fields). Information for two of those programs, European Solidarity Corps and European Youth Card, are only available on the official websites of those programs and websites of contact points for those programs. BiH's participation in these programs enables formal education institutions, public institutions and civil society organizations to implement mobility activities involving young people (variety of profiles) or those who work with young people and other professionals through various projects.

In the context of mobility in the field of youth work, the most important programs for young people in BiH are Erasmus+ Youth and European Solidarity Corps, which cover mobility activities at their core. These are EU programs in which BiH may participate and are implemented through the coordination of projects and project partnerships by civil society organizations.

The general goal of the Erasmus+ program is to, through lifelong learning, support the educational, professional and personal development of people in education, training, youth and sports, in Europe and beyond, contributing to sustainable growth, quality jobs and social cohesion, initiating innovation and strengthening European identity and active citizenship. Considering the types of cooperation it offers, the program is crucial for the improvement of cooperation in youth policy within the European Union Youth Strategy 2019 - 2027 and the development of the European dimension in sports. 

Achieving the goals of this program is defined through 3 main activities mentioned in the Program guide 2021 - 2027: Key action 1 - with a focus on the mobility of individuals and professionals, Key action 2 - with a focus on strengthening cooperation and capacity building in the field of youth and sports, Key action 3 - with a focus on improving national politics with a separate Jean Monet action focusing on formal education. The main actions of the program provide the opportunity to civil society organizations to participate through various partnerships in the projects for young people through the part related to training and development, as well as to all beneficiaries from BiH in this sector. Parts of the main actions related to capacity building in the field of youth and sports, as well as the organization of virtual exchanges, are available to users from BiH to apply as project leads once a year. Applicants from BiH with projects in the mentioned areas apply directly to the executive agency in Brussels, the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), which is responsible for the implementation of the program. With the purpose of increasing opportunities for mobility, inclusion and improving the skills of young people with a focus on young people from marginalized groups, the program strengthens cooperation between different regions through projects. All participating countries are placed into 3 program groups, namely: Program countries group (made up of EU member states), Third countries associated with the program (made up of North Macedonia, Iceland, Norway, Serbia, Liechtenstein, Turkey) and Third countries not associated with the program (consisting of 14 regions). BiH is in group 3 Region 1, the Western Balkans, which consists of BiH, Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro. In the context of applying for grants and partnerships that create new opportunities for youth mobility, the group of Program countries and Region 1 are the most important for BiH because the program enables cooperation between them.

BiH does not have a National Agency, as is the case with the countries in the group of Program countries and Third countries associated with the program, which would cover the area of information about the opportunity of the program, provide support for organizations and young people to use the program opportunity and financial coordination of certain calls that are not of a centralized type. Accordingly, when it comes to the bodies responsible for the implementation of the program, in addition to ECEA and the BiH Ministry of Civil Affairs of BiH, the following are significant for BiH:

SALTO Resource Centre for Southeast Europe focuses on support and promotes co-operation between the Program Countries and Western Balkan Partner Countries in the framework of the Erasmus+: Youth in Action Program and European Solidarity Corps;

- The BiH National Erasmus+ Office (NEO) assists the Commission, the Executive Agency and local authorities in the implementation of the Erasmus+ program. It is the focal point in the country for the stakeholders involved in the Erasmus+ program in the fields of higher education, vocational education and training, youth and sports, and

- Two Contact Points (PRONI Centre for Youth Development and BRAVO - Bosnian Representative Association for Valuable Opportunities) are responsible for informing and promoting the opportunities that the program Erasmus+ Youth and European Solidarity Corps offer to beneficiaries in BiH.

A detailed description of the monitoring activities of the Erasmus+ program implementation at the national level is not available.

The second largest European program that enables mobility and is available to youth organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina is the European Solidarity Corps, which was known as the European Volunteer Service - EVS until 2019. This program is created for young people aged 18 to 30, with the possibility of individual or team volunteering through long-term (up to max. 1 year) and short-term volunteer activities (min. 2 months/2 weeks). Most of the opportunities through the European Solidarity Corps are cross-border volunteer activities that offer opportunities for young people to contribute to strengthening solidarity, learn new skills, spend time abroad, learn or improve the language of the country in which they volunteer. 

The program clearly defines the role of organizations that are responsible for volunteers who participate in volunteer activities in both countries and find obtaining the Quality Label as the first criteria for participation in the program. With the fact that the program does not restrict institutions from applying for accreditation and participating in volunteer activities, they have the same right as CSOs. Organizations that wish to participate in the program must have one of the following accreditations, with one organization being able to have accreditation for both roles:

- support organization: based in the home country of the volunteer (in BiH) who goes to another country to volunteer with the aim of helping the volunteer prepare for the experience abroad and remains supportive throughout the entire period of volunteering;

- host organization (in a country from the group of Program countries): will receive and help the volunteers in the country where the volunteer activity is implemented.

Young people who want to participate in the program should be registered on the ESC program portal, and organizations that want to participate can apply for ESC accreditation to the SALTO Resource Centre for Southeast Europe.

According to the ESC Program Guide, the countries are divided a little differently than in the case of the Erasmus+ program, and the ESC program enables organizations from BiH to get to hosting and sending volunteering projects by being only partners in projects, applied by their lead project partner (from an EU Member State or a third country associated to the Programme).

In addition to volunteer activities within the European Solidarity Corps program, organizations from BiH are also available to participate within the Humanitarian Aid activities. Within Humanitarian Aid activities, volunteers (from 18 to 35 years old) have the opportunity to participate in activities related to disaster preparedness and post-disaster relief, covering a very wide range of areas such as: promotion of gender equality, protection of women and children, protection of refugees and internally displaced persons, protection undocumented migrants, mitigating the effects of climate change, improving food security, etc. With this type of activity, there is also the possibility of individual and team volunteering in short-term and long-term activities. This activity is available only for people who legally reside legally in EU Member State or in a third country associated to the Programme (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Turkey and Republic of North Macedonia) and who have registered in the European Solidarity Corps Portal. So, organization from BiH cannot send volunteers but can be host for others volunteers. 

Given the specificity of these activities, the program requires organizations to obtain a separate Quality Label for Humanitarian Aid for which it is required to apply directly to ECEA, and a minimum of 3 organizations with a valid Quality Label for Humanitarian Aid must participate for the implementation of the activity. For organizations from BiH with a valid QL, participation in these activities is available through project partnership with lead organizations that should be from EU Member States and third countries associated to the Programme.

When it comes to the bodies responsible for the implementation of the ESC program there is a overleap with bodies in Erasmus+ program, expect of NEO role. They are not involved in ESC program. 

The third largest European program available for participation by young people from BiH is the European Youth Card. This is a program that is implemented at the state level, and is coordinated by the organization PRONI Centre for youth development as the only licensed organization in BiH for issuing youth cards.

The program is designed to provide tens of thousands of discounts on education, mobility, travel, culture, accommodation, services and products in 36 countries across Europe. In every country (EU and beyond) there are hundreds of programs and opportunities for volunteering, learning, employment, entrepreneurship and mobility. Through educational mobility activities and commercial ones, the program encourages young people to travel and provides equal opportunities to use the benefits of this card for all young people aged 15 to 30 in all 36 countries.

The card has different names in different countries. Whether it’s called Carnét Joven in Spain, Young Scot Card in Scotland or Carta Giovani in Italy, as long as it contains the European Youth Card logo young people can access all thousands of opportunities in all 36 countries. The card is issued and managed by organizations that are members of the European Youth Card Association (EYCA). European Youth Card Association (EYCA) and PRONI Centre for Youth Development are responsible for monitoring activities and implementing the program in BiH, respecting the association's internal rules, according to which each member is obliged to report to the association on the situation in the country.

Other programmes

Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) is an independently functioning institutional mechanism, founded by the Western Balkans six participants (WB 6): Albania, BiH, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, aiming to promote the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation between the youth in the region through youth exchange programs. The Agreement on the establishment of RYCO was signed by the WB6 Prime Ministers at the WB Summit held in Paris, on 4 July 2016. RYCO is funded by all the governments of the region, and is supported by the EU and other donors. With its main office in Tirana, and local branches in all participating countries, RYCO promotes reconciliation, trust, cooperation and dialogue in the Western Balkans through the support and financing of projects that bring together young people in the region. The calls available for application have regional character and are intended for CSOs and secondary schools in the participating countries. The RYCO Local Office for BiH is in Sarajevo, and through cooperation with ministries, organizations and local administrations, holds informative activities throughout the year, in order to bring its mission and possibilities closer to young people and possible applicants.

With the aim of better informing young people about all possibilities of mobility and encouraging activism, RYCO launched the platform to provide a meeting place for all young people interested in mobility, participating in events, opportunities and news in the Western Balkans. Designed to provide daily promotion of regional youth collaboration, youth experiences, opportunities and storytelling, this platform embodies RYCO's goal for the region's youth – to inspire young people to seize opportunities and embrace positive change in their communities.

The organization Schüler Helfen Leben with headquarters in Berlin, through its office in Sarajevo, in addition to program activities at the local and national level, offers young people from BiH the opportunity to exchange and volunteer in Germany through formal and non-formal education. The foundation is aimed at creating conditions for the progress of young people in BiH, through developing the capacity of young people to become socially engaged and actively involved in decision-making in their communities. The foundation is responsible for the implementation and monitoring of volunteering activities, without the direct involvement of state ministries in BiH.

Through the SHL volunteering program based on the principle of non-formal education, the foundation enables young people from BiH (and the region) aged 18 to 23 to apply for one-year volunteering at the offices of the Schüler Helfen Leben Foundation in the German cities of Neumünster and Lübeck, where they have the opportunity to participate in the implementation of local and international activities, learn about the work of SHL offices in Berlin, Neumünster and Sarajevo, and visit partner organizations abroad.

Through the SHL Youth Exchange Program, the SHL Foundation covers mobility within formal education, where the call for applications is intended for schools and organizations. The youth exchange program is organized by the Schüler Helfen Leben Foundation (SHL) with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany. So far, more than 1,800 young people in BiH and Germany/European Union from 75 schools and four youth organizations have participated in the exchanges. Students of primary and secondary schools from BiH and Germany, as well as youth organizations, during the exchange visit a partner school or organization under the supervision of teachers, participate in regular classes and are placed in the families of their peers. Cultural evenings are organized during the visit, where students present their country, music, dance, language and cuisine. At the end of one exchange, a return visit is organized.

The regional program that enables the mobility of individuals is the "WBF MOVE Grant" implemented by the Western Balkan Fund. The Western Balkan Fund (WBF) is an international organization based in Tirana, Albania, founded by the governments of Albania, BiH, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The agreement on the creation of the WBF was signed by the WB6 foreign affairs ministers in November 2015. The fund started operating on October 1, 2017, after all the parliaments of its constituent members completed the ratification procedures. The WBF has separate calls for CSO projects, but especially a grant for the mobility of individuals. The mobility grant scheme is dedicated to individuals and aims to encourage people-to-people connections. More specifically, WBF will support individuals from the region in their personal and professional development by providing project funds for regional research and new perspectives, encouraging them to step out of their comfort zones, embrace diversity and develop a regional mindset. The scheme aims to encourage regional cooperation through various forms of mobility of individuals by encouraging active engagement for local and regional issues and challenges.

Legal framework applying to foreign volunteers

The BiH Law on Foreigners also defines the legal framework that applies to foreign volunteers. Article 49 of this Law defines general requirements for granting temporary residence, and Article 57 defines the temporary residence of volunteers as follows:

Temporary residence may be granted to a foreigner who, along with the requirements of Article 49 (General requirements for granting temporary residence) of this Law, also fulfils the following conditions:

  1. He/she is not under 18 nor over 65 years of age,

  2. He/she possesses a volunteering contract concluded with an agency, institution, humanitarian organisation, association, or foundation in BiH in which he/she is volunteering,

  3. Encloses a project where he/she is engaged, or a document providing the volunteering work scheme, job description and accompanying duties, number of agents, volunteering period, mentorship and working hours,

  4. Organisation in which the foreigner is volunteering has signed a policy of obligatory insurance and assumed the responsibility for the foreigner during the volunteering period, including the costs of subsistence, accommodation, health insurance and return. 

Temporary residence of a foreign volunteer shall be granted for a period not exceeding one year, and may exceptionally be extended under the same conditions applied for approval of residence if the project of the foreigner’s engagement lasts longer than a year.