The European Parliament approves the new edition of the Erasmus+ programme, the EU’s flagship programme for education, training, youth and sport.
The programme, which has demonstrated that it plays a significant role in fostering European identity, will have almost double the funding in 2021-2027 (over 28 billion EUR from different sources) when compared to the previous seven years (14.7 billion EUR).
In the plenary debate ahead of the approval of the programme, most speakers said that young peoples’ lives have been affected by COVID-19 and stressed the importance of Erasmus+, evaluated by citizens as the most successful EU programme, for Europe’s future generations.
The new Erasmus+ will offer more tools and resources to support inclusion. The Commission and member states must come up with action plans to improve access to learning and mobility for people who historically have had fewer opportunities to participate – people living with a disability, people living in poverty, in a remote location, people with a migration background, and more.
Those who do not have sufficient means to cover the initial costs to take part in the programme (such as buying a train ticket or booking accomodation) can receive top-up grants, including up-front payments. Applications cannot be rejected for having higher costs if those are linked to measures that guarantee inclusion.
Mobility for adult learners
Compared to the previous Erasmus+, the new programme will expand to support time spent in a different EU country for up to six months for students in adult education. It will help people of all ages and backgrounds acquire new work and life skills, helping them better adapt to the changes brought about by the coming green and digital transitions as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Simplified access to a ‘greener’ Erasmus+
The new Erasmus+ will be simpler and more manageable for applicants, with more user-friendly IT systems and less paperwork. It will offer a special “small-scale partnerships” funding scheme for smaller organisations, such as youth associations and sports clubs.
The programme will also measure its contribution to achieving the EU’s climate spending targets and reduce its own environmental footprint, for example by incentivising climate-friendly means of transportation for participants.
Innovative models of education
The DiscoverEU initiative will now be part of Erasmus+. It gives young people the opportunity to apply for a free pass to travel around Europe in order to learn (e.g. attend an intensive language class or participate in a museum workshop) and discover Europe’s cultural and linguistic diversity.
The “European Universities” initiative will enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries. The third initiative – “Centres of Vocational Excellence” will create local, internationally connected skills ecosystems.