“Erasmus+ stands for cooperation, diversity, freedom of movement and solidarity,” Androulla Vassiliou, Member of the European Commission for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said.
“Today we are starting a new chapter in a fantastic success story”
Speaking at the UK launch at the British Council in London, Vassiliou continued: “Today we are starting a new chapter in a fantastic success story… Erasmus+ will expand that opportunity to four million more people, giving them the chance to study, train, work or volunteer in a new country, in a new culture, in a new language, with new friends.”
The expansion has been enabled by a 40% increase in funding compared to the previous education and mobility schemes Erasmus+ replaces, including the Erasmus scheme.
The programme also enables third countries outside the EU to participate in projects for the first time, although each project must be led by a member of the EU.
The programme has not been rolled out to Switzerland, however, after a controversial referendum earlier this year in favour of an EU immigration cap was passed blocking a free movement agreement with Croatia, the EU’s newest member state.
Switzerland, which has several bilateral agreements with the EU including one allowing the free movement of persons, has been part of the Erasmus programme in the past, but it “must sign the agreement” with Croatia in order to be part of the upcoming scheme, Vasilliou told The PIE News.
“For us, the freedom of movement is very important,” she said. “We have to wait and see. If they do it, we shall be very pleased to resume their Erasmus+.”
Ruth Sinclair-Jones, Head of EU Programmes and National Agency Director at the British Council, told The PIE News: “I’m really pleased to see so many people here today from across the education industry and youth training perspectives. This is a big opportunity… and the buzz in the room’s telling us people are really engaged with it.”