ESU: “Radical re-allocation of EU funds is needed"

BRUSSELS – The European Students’ Union (ESU) fears that the recently proposed EU long-term budget (2014-2020) will be insufficient to cover for the expectations raised by the EU member states in their Europe 2020 Strategy. Allan Päll, ESU Chairperson said: “Although there is certain progress reflected in the proposals, the overall investment level into higher education is not proportional. If the EU wants to succeed with the Europe 2020 strategy a clear and radical re-allocation of EU funds towards these benchmarks is needed.”

The two education targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy say that by 2020 less than 10 percent of the population aged 18-24 should have left school early and that at least 40 percent of the EU’s young adults (30-34) should have completed tertiary or equivalent education. The battle on the EU budget kicked off on 29 June with budget proposals coming from the European Commission.

In its reaction on the proposals for the new multiannual financial framework, ESU - the umbrella organisation of 45 national unions of students from 38 European countries - says the budget for the new Education Europe programme should be ‘significantly’ increased as it thinks the current increase is barely a minimum which is needed to reach the Europe 2020 targets. ESU also holds the opinion that the budget proposals should be sufficient to cover for an increase in individual Erasmus grants. Päll: “Raising the average should take into account increased expenses of students but should also have the aim to make Erasmus more socially inclusive by allowing more access of students from lower-socioeconomic backgrounds.”

EU loan schemes
ESU is concerned about the Commission’s proposal for a new financing mechanism for mobile Master students through offering them loans that will be provided by banks that benefit from an EU loan guarantee. Päll: “A mobility loan scheme facilitated by the EU is unlikely to be attractive and effective as there is a high risk that the loans will be very expensive for students, especially students coming from low earning EU countries.”

ESU lastly thinks that the commitment to increase access and success in higher education through the EU’s Structural Funds, as set out in the Europe 2020 Strategy, should be reflected more in the budget. “EU financing should be targeted more effectively towards reaching a real system of lifelong learning where anyone is welcome at any point in time”, concluded Päll.

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Published: 13 July 2011

For more information, please contact:
Allan Päll, ESU Chairperson-elect: +32479591499 or allan@esu-online.org or Marianne Slegers, ESU Communications Manager: +32473669894 or marianne@esu-online.org

Full reaction can be read here