MEPs welcome outcome of inter-institutional talks on Erasmus scheme

Under the newly agreed proposals, flagship education, culture and volunteering programmes will have almost twice as much money compared to the previous budgetary period.

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

19 May 2021

Deputies said the successful conclusion of the protracted negotiations spelt a “good day” for the flagship programme.

The educational scheme will get a major boost in funding and includes some important new innovations for European universities, Centres of Vocational Excellence and the European Youth Portal, “DiscoverEU”.

MEPs approved the agreement, which will see the Erasmus budget rise to €28bn for the next seven-year spending period.

Parliament, at the same time, adopted two other 2021-2027 EU programmes: the Creative Europe programme, the biggest ever commitment to support EU cultural and creative sectors, worth €2.2 billion, and the European Solidarity Corps volunteering programme for young people in Europe and beyond. This is worth €1 billion.

The result of the talks between the institutions was announced at a news conference in Parliament on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters, Milan Zver, an EPP MEP and rapporteur on the file, which is focused on education, training, youth and sport, said, “Erasmus is a success story and a real EU flagship programme and we in Parliament are glad to be part of this story.”

“Foreign learning experiences will be available for many more people. I am proud to have negotiated more than €28 billion for some 10 million students, teachers, young people, adult learners and sport organisations to participate in Erasmus+.”

“This outcome has taken five negotiating rounds which have lasted over two and a half years,” said the deputy, a member of the Committee on Culture and Education.

“We have managed to increase the Erasmus budget and there will be some new initiatives. We hope that this also means that the scheme will in future be even more inclusive, including people from those groups who have not so far participated.”

“The amount spent on vocational educational training will also increase and there will now be a stronger oversight role for the Parliament in the Erasmus programme.”

“It is a bold and important signal that the EU is almost doubling its investment in education in difficult times. Although further and bolder steps are still needed, this is a good start” Petra Kammerevert, S&D

The Slovenian deputy added, “This all represents an important step forward. It means that, for the duration covered by this agreement, both young and older Europeans taking part in the scheme can spend more time together, learn more languages and visit other EU countries more easily. It also makes it easier for participants to integrate into labour markets in Europe.”

“The scheme had been partially stalled by the pandemic, but this is one of few programmes that brings both the young and old together and I believe it has a beautiful future.”

Italian Socialist Massimiliano Smeriglio, also rapporteur on the dossier, welcomed extra EU support for the cultural and creative sectors for the coming years through the Creative Europe programme and the new European Solidarity Corps.

He told reporters that a budget line would be introduced on “media literacy,” adding “this is important so that we can hopefully have more quality journalism and less fake news.”

He said, “It is important that cultural areas are also being boosted by increased financing, including cinema and festivals. This will be especially available in the first two years of these programmes so I hope this good news can be spread far and wide.”

Speaking separately, Petra Kammerevert, S&D spokeswoman on the topic and negotiator for the file, said, “It is a bold and important signal that the EU is almost doubling its investment in education in difficult times. Although further and bolder steps are still needed, this is a good start.”

“Taking into account the contributions from all 33 participating Erasmus+ programme countries, a total of €28 billion is available. The four priorities - inclusion, sustainability, digitisation and participation - address the most important challenges currently facing European development.”

Her colleague Alicia Homs Ginel, noted, “Erasmus+ has changed the lives of millions of young people over the last three decades, but the new, larger programme for the period 2021-2027 will be a turning point in terms of inclusion and more opportunities for learning mobility.”

“Erasmus is a success story and a real EU flagship programme and we in Parliament are glad to be part of this story. Foreign learning experiences will be available for many more people” Milan Zver, EPP

Further comment came from EPP deputy Tomasz Frankowski, who negotiated the Creative Europe programme, who added, “The culture sector was one of the most impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. Thanks to our pressure in the European Parliament, the cultural and creative sectors will now get an almost doubled budget of €2.4 billion compared to previous years to recover.”

“For the first time ever, we will support the news media sector. What is more, we will also have a dedicated fund for music, and special support will be offered to emerging artists and networks.”

Many MEPs remain hopeful that the UK will, despite Brexit, again become involved in Erasmus.

Following the end of the Brexit transition period and with the UK leaving the Erasmus programme, MEPs say many young British people are left without the chance to develop close ties with their European neighbours.

The Scottish and Welsh government have already made it known that they wish to stay in the scheme.

Terry Reintke, deputy leader of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, says, “An important next step would be a return to the Erasmus programme, giving back to people on both sides of the channel the opportunity to study and work in Europe and the UK.”

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