The EU is currently discussing it’s long term budget, known as the multiannual financial framework, which will run from 2021 until 2027.
“We believe that with this proposal of €21 billion, it will threaten the program”
President of the European Council, Charles Michel, unveiled his draft European Council conclusions for the MFF in February, which includes detail about funding for Erasmus+.
The program currently receives €14.7bn in funding. But in May 2018, the European Commission had proposed that it receive €30 billion.
This figure was increased in further proposals in March 2019, when the European Parliament said that funds for the Erasmus+ should not just be doubled, but tripled to around €45 billion.
However, the draft European Council conclusions for the multiannual budget of the EU for 2021-2027 suggest that the program should receive €21 billion in funding – 30% less than the original Commission proposal of two-fold increase and more than 50% cut from the Parliament’s.
Kostis Giannidis, president of the Erasmus Student Network, explained that the latest proposals of €24 billion came as a surprise.
“We have been advocating for so long for the new Erasmus+ program. All of the signs that we were receiving from institutions, from governments, from member states, was that yes, everybody believes that the program is very impactful and so we need to invest more,” he told The PIE News.
“We feel that all these promises were empty. Most of all we believe that with this proposal of €21 billion, it will threaten the program because we know that we need more inclusiveness.”
Giannidis said that ESN has witnessed students from disadvantaged backgrounds and under-represented groups participating in the program less frequently because the funding is not there.
“Everyone was saying how we should have a more inclusive program and we’ll pay more money. So as an organisation, we feel that all these promises, in the end, were a bluff from the member states,” he added.
In the Gothenburg Summit of December 2017, the European Council called upon member states and other European institutions to work towards stepping up mobility and exchanges, including through a substantially strengthened, inclusive and extended Erasmus+ program.
However, Giannidis argued that €21 billion will simply not be enough money to achieve the ambitions of the new program.
The financial position the EU finds itself in after Brexit may go some way to explaining the latest Erasmus+ funding proposals.
“We feel that all these promises, in the end, were a bluff from the member states”
Discussions around Erasmus+ came as EU heads of state or government met in Brussels to discuss the MFF.
Those negotiations ultimately proved to be unsuccessful, and an agreement was made that said more time is needed.
“The last weeks and the last days, we have worked very hard in order to try to reach an agreement regarding the next European budget,” said the president of the European Council.
“Unfortunately, today we have observed that it was not possible to reach an agreement. We have observed that we need more time.
“We know that this European budget is a very difficult topic, it’s a very difficult negotiation, especially after Brexit and the gap between €60 billion and €75 billion,” Michel added.