BRUSSELS - ‘Erasmus for all’ might only receive around 17.5 billion euros from 2014 to 2020 if the European Council will get its way. The European Commission had originally allocated 19 billion for this programme within the new Multiannual Financial Framework that is currently being negotiated. These figures take into account the estimated inflation throughout the programme´s time period.
The EU heads of state want to introduce the most severe budget cuts seen in decades, including the sub-heading on “Competitiveness for growth and jobs”. The Commission initially proposed that the budget for education would be increased by 70 per cent, but the Council wants to slice it down to 50 per cent.
Official figures on what ‘Erasmus for all’ will receive have not yet been released as budget lines for specific programmes are still under consideration. Yesterday, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, said that the EU heads of states had agreed on a net-increase in spending on education and research compared to the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2007-2013. However, the actual budget might turn out to be much lower than the European Commission had suggested according to an unofficial estimation of the Summit´s agreement assuming linear cuts.
EU Council breaks promises
“We are very disappointed with the European Council that insists on downgrading the budget for the European Union instead of creating growth and prosperity. The Council’s position is short-sighted. Whereas headings such as agriculture remain barely untouched, governments seem to want to cut the budget proposed for education under the new Erasmus for all programme. We regret this position, because we need to support the generation that is supposed to take care of our continent in the future. These budget cuts make it impossible to reach the targets for 2020, set by the EU heads themselves,” says Karina Ufert, Chairperson of the European Students’ Union (ESU).
The EU’s growth strategy, called Europe 2020, enlists five main priorities for employment, research and development, climate change and energy sustainability, education and fighting poverty and social exclusion. Based on this strategy, the EU wants to reduce the rates of early school leaving below ten per cent and make forty per cent of people aged 30 to 34 years complete third level education before the year 2020.
“We do not foresee how the EU Member States plan to reach these goals by investing less in Europe. Young people are facing many problems already as recent graduates are unable to find work and unemployment is as high as fifty per cent in countries such as Spain. These issues will not be resolved without strong political commitment to invest in areas such as the development of education and training systems. The EU leaders are breaking the promises they gave to us and they do not give us faith for the coming years,” Ufert comments.
European Parliament says no
‘Erasmus for all’ seeks to merge previous EU programmes bringing the current Lifelong Learning Programme to an end in 2013. Programmes for youth and education, previously Erasmus, Leonardo Da Vinci, Comenius and Youth in Action, would therefore fall under the new ‘Erasmus for all’ scheme.
The European Parliament has renounced the EU Summit’s conclusions, as it believes the proposal will create a budget deficit for the EU. Now, the European Parliament and the Council will enter negotiations on how to proceed based on these statements.
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The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 39 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out or Facebook page or visit www.esu-online.org. ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.