A new European Union initiative offers young people the opportunity to get involved in various projects in Europe. But what does this mean for social insurance?

TF/IW – 02/2017

The European Solidarity Corps will start work on projects in summer this year. The Corps is an EU initiative which offers young people aged between 18 and 30 the opportunity to work on humanitarian and social projects both domestically and abroad for a period of between two and twelve months. The aim is to bring them closer to Europe and encourage them to contribute to social interaction in Europe. Participants in the initiative will be able to gain professional experience, try out their language skills and engage in intercultural exchange.  


In terms of being covered by social insurance during their time in the Solidarity Corps, a distinction must be made between volunteering projects and occupational projects. The former refers to voluntary activities carried out on a full-time basis. In this situation, insurance covers medical costs, death, evacuation and repatriation, third party liability, and the loss or theft of documents and travel tickets.  

Occupational projects, on the other hand, include jobs, traineeships or apprenticeships that are secured through an employment contract. Thus, national labour and social laws apply, and they are covered by national health insurance. Other forms of insurance such as third party insurance must be organised by the participants themselves.  

Covered by statutory social insurance?

Whether a person is covered by the German social insurance system during their time in Germany depends on several factors.  


In principle, mandatory insurance is in accordance with the national legislation of the country in which the job, traineeship or apprenticeship is performed, in this case under German legislation. Therefore, the German statutory health insurance funds must check whether the person is covered by statutory insurance during their time in Germany.  


Generally speaking, German statutory accident insurance covers all people working in Germany, regardless of whether it is a job, traineeship, apprenticeship or voluntary position. Preventive measures such as check-ups and screenings are also included.  

People working in other EU countries may also be covered by German social insurance, provided they are working for an organisation that is based in Germany and certain conditions are met (e.g. posted workers or workers with several employers as per the rules for social security coordination). In other cases, the social security legislation of the Member State where the activity is carried out applies. It is highly recommended to talk with the responsible organisation about existing insurance coverage prior to commencing activities. 


In order to ensure the workplace safety and health of the Solidarity Corps, all participating organisations must be accredited and adhere to the Solidarity Corps Charter. This obliges them to ensure safe living and working conditions for the participants.  


The first projects for the Solidarity Corps are expected to start in summer 2017. Applications are already open. To get more information:  




The Commission is now consulting stakeholders and the general public to define key priorities and shape the implementation of the European Solidarity Corps. To get more information: