EP and Council negotiators struck a provisional deal on the EU’s Erasmus+ programme for 2021-2027 on Friday, worth more than 26 billion EUR in current prices.
“We were able to secure an additional 2.2 billion EUR over seven years, meaning that we can now spend more than 26 billion euros on training, education and more. We can also boost inclusion, enable more people to benefit from the programme and properly fund the three initiatives that have been successfully piloted since 2018 - the Centres of Vocational Excellence, DiscoverEU and European Universities”, said the rapporteur Milan Zver (EPP, SL) after the trilogue.
“Until now, Erasmus+ has had low levels of participation among people with fewer opportunities. That must change. Those who have missed out in the past will have significantly improved access to learning and mobility, through the specific provisions we have inserted”, said Chair of EP Culture and Education Committee Sabine Verheyen (EPP, DE). She added that “the Parliament fought hard to have a stronger oversight and decision-making role over the next seven years, which will make the programme more democratic.”
Helping people with fewer opportunities to take part
MEPs insisted that the new edition of Erasmus+ includes specific measures to enable more people with fewer opportunities to participate in the programme, regardless of whether those disadvantages are due to disability, poverty, remote location, migrant background or other reasons.
Both the Commission and member states will have to develop action plans to identify barriers and increase participation of people who are disadvantaged. They will also be able to provide top-up grants, including up-front payments for those in need to pay for the initial costs. According to the agreed text, projects cannot be rejected for having higher costs linked to measures that guarantee inclusion.
A lifelong learning programme open to adult learners
In order to better adapt to the changes caused by the green and digital transitions as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to acquire new work and life skills, Parliament successfully expanded the scope of the Erasmus+. People enrolled in adult education programmes - for example, learning digital skills or taking evening, professional or personal development classes, will be able to participate in mobility programmes from 2021.
A budget up to the task
As part of the political agreement on the multi-annual budget for 2021-2027, MEPs managed to secure an additional 2.2 billion EUR — the equivalent of one year’s funding under the current Erasmus+ programme.
Simplified access and less paperwork
Thanks to the efforts of MEPs, the programme is now simpler and more manageable, as there are better and more user-friendly IT systems and less paperwork. Access to financing under the EU Regional Development Fund or Social Fund will be facilitated via a ‘Seal of Excellence’ that will be awarded for quality Erasmus+ applications that have not succeeded in obtaining financing under this programme.
A ‘greener’ Erasmus+
In line with the European Green Deal and Parliament’s September resolution, Erasmus+ will in the future measure its contribution to achieving the EU’s climate spending targets and reduce its own environmental footprint, for example by promoting climate-friendly means of transportation for participants.
The agreement reached today still needs to be approved by Parliament as a whole as well as Council.