Energising Erasmus+ - S&D Group focuses debate on future improvements
What can we all do to ensure the Erasmus+ programme reaches the 4 million intended beneficiaries in Europe and beyond?
The Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament took the initiative to invite as many stakeholders as possible to launch an open dialogue on the effective implementation of the Erasmus+ programme – the new EU programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sports. The initiative was warmly welcomed and the room was packed!
Almost two years after the Commission revamped its new learning-mobility programme to offer more studying and training opportunities to Europeans, it is time to exchange views on its successes and failures, on its advantages and improvements compared to the original seven programmes (Erasmus, Erasmus Mundus, Youth in Action, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius, Gruntvig, etc.). It was also an opportunity to reflect on the challenges faced on a daily basis by those implementing it and participating, and to generate ideas on how to improve its implementation.
S&D MEP Silvia Costa, the chair of the Parliament's education and culture committee who opened the conference, said:
"The new version of the programme now involves 33 different countries and provides opportunities for mobility to more than 3 million students, teachers, university staff and new graduates – a number comparable to the whole population of Berlin or Madrid! These numbers make Erasmus the largest mobility programme for learners in the world, as well as one of the major successes of the European project. According to the European Commission's study, Erasmus reduces the risks of being unemployed, helps with finding a job in an international environment and makes Europe more appreciated. Five years after they have finished their studies, the unemployment rate among Erasmus participants is about 23% lower than among their peers. These are all positive indicators that must encourage us to keep supporting the programme and to defend it against any cuts in financing, because here you can find the core of European citizenship.
"We are delighted to see such enthusiastic attendance from representatives from the European Parliament, the European Commission, national agencies and many who have had experience with the Erasmus+ grants, whether they are university students, parents, teachers, youth workers, trainees or volunteers. We particularly welcome the Commission's engagement in facilitating the improvement of its implementation and are happy to have welcomed the new director general of the Commission's Culture and Education department (DG EAC), Ms Martine Reicherts."
Petra Kammerevert, S&D MEP and co-ordinator for the education and culture committee, added:
"This conference has been an enriching experience for all participants, but especially for us policymakers. We took the initiative and dedicated ourselves to gathering political support in the Parliament for a better financed Erasmus+ programme and a new structure while protecting the most important brand names. But naturally our work did not end with the adoption of Erasmus+ and a major part still lies ahead of us. We have come a long way since the programme was first adopted in 1987, always striving to increase the applicability and the quality of the programme, so that more people are given the opportunity to benefit each time. And although Erasmus+ is in my eyes an overall success story and plays a key role in welding Europe together, it is obvious that it needs some fine adjustments. Therefore I would like to thank all the stakeholders of the programme, beneficiaries, participants and implementation bodies for their contributions today.
"This conference was very successful in giving us a lot of food for thought for the upcoming implementation report, as well as the mid-term review planned for December 2017."