BRUSSELS – Only by the end of December 2012, students will have certainty about their Erasmus grants for the second semester of the academic year 2012 – 2013. For the first semester, the European Commission has already transferred 99.13 percent of the money to the national Erasmus agencies but is now lacking 90 million euro to make the payments for Erasmus students in the second semester.
Although the European Commission has showed itself confident that it will find a solution for the current financial gap, the European Students’ Union (ESU) is worried that the payments will come in too late and that these delays will cause a massive drop in Erasmus applications. The Commission will table the amendment to the budget to fix the shortcomings on 23 October, while the final decision will only be made by the end of 2012.
Karina Ufert, chair of ESU, said: “How can we expect students to take a decision about studying abroad when there is no clarity on the grants they will receive? EU member states have made a commitment to free up money to increase student mobility, now it is time they act like it.”
The EU’s budgetary authority voted insufficient payments in the EU’s budget for 2012, affecting all spending of the EU. In order to secure funding for the EU funds, under which the Erasmus scheme falls, the Council and European Parliament (EP) need to make amendments to the budget.
The EU’s seven net-contributors, Austria, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Finland, The Netherlands and Sweden, have refused to increase expenditure in the 2013 budget by 6.8%, which amounts to 100 billion euro, which is threatening the future of many EU schemes.
Ufert concluded: “Over and over we have had to listen to political leaders who told us how important education and student mobility is, especially in the light of the rising youth unemployment. Those words mean nothing if they do not actually put money on the table right now.”
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The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 38 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 our Facebook page or visit www.esu-online.org. ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.