BRUSSELS – “The negotiations on the budget of the European Union cannot be stalled any longer as tens of thousands of students enrolled in mobility programmes face financial uncertainty in the upcoming academic year,” says Karina Ufert, Chairperson of the European Students’ Union (ESU).
ESU would like to remind European policymakers how important it is to process an amended budget for 2013 as swiftly as possible. The European Commission has estimated that 126 million euros are needed for the Erasmus and Lifelong Learning programmes in 2013 to cover the necessary payments.
Beneficiaries receive 250 euros on average
The popularity of the EU’s mobility programmes has been steadily increasing for the past decade. In the academic year 2010 to 2011, 231 thousand people benefitted from the programmes receiving 250 euros in financial support on average per month enabling them to seek experience and knowledge abroad. Thousands of students therefore depend on that the additional funds for 2013 will be provided as they plan their future study course.
“These are not just numbers on a piece of paper. Students rely financially on these programmes. The EU Member States need to fulfil their obligations towards EU citizens,” Ufert says.
European Council needs to step up on 11.2 billion euros
ESU wants an assurance from the European Council that the additional 11.2 billion that are needed in total for the budget in 2013 will be provided without any further implications. Until now the European Council has only offered a part of the amount with the remaining one to be paid at a later stage. ESU trusts that the European Parliament and Council will resolve their disagreement now in June so that negotiations on the multiannual financial framework can continue uninterrupted.
“We fear that the European Council is delaying the negotiations on the budget for 2013 in order to get the upper hand on the multiannual financial framework. This is totally unacceptable because the Member States know how much is needed extra. Meanwhile, students have no official guarantee that the EU will provide sufficient financial support for mobility programmes in the upcoming years,” says Ufert.
Education and youth programmes should be prioritised
It is still unclear how much the EU will invest in education and youth programmes from 2014 to 2020, but the European Commission estimated in April that the new Erasmus for all programme would be allocated 14.5 billion euros out of which the international dimension gets 1.5 billion assuming fixed prices for 2011. Erasmus for all was originally supposed to receive 17 billion euros in total.
“We want the EU institutions to finalise the budget for 2013 by the end of June so that all payments will be secured regardless of future discussions on the multiannual financial framework. We want to see a commitment to a long term policy and a solution so that we do not have to encounter obstacles like this every year,” Ufert concludes.
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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.