In the European Commission’s latest proposal for the EU’s next seven-year budget, Erasmus+ is projected to be funded with 24.6 billion euros. While this would represent an increase of 3.4 billion compared to the 2014-2020 programme, EUA has expressed concern in a statement that the amount will not be sufficient to meet the new and ambitious policy objectives for the next generation of the programme.
The European Commission had proposed in 2018 to double Erasmus+ funding in the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the European Parliament wanted to triple it. The ambition was to reinforce Erasmus+ regarding goals including the green and digital transitions, the reinforcement of mobility, enhanced social inclusion, as well as the European Universities Initiative. The amount proposed does not match these objectives. In addition, the new Erasmus+ actions might compete for budget with already underfunded programme lines.
EUA joins the Erasmus+ Coalition in expressing disappointment in the European Commission’s revised proposal for the next MFF. In full support of a statement issued by the Coalition, EUA underlines that education, research and innovation hold the key to Europe’s long-term recovery and resilience, and urges member states to consider a more adequate investment in these areas. It is short-sighted to cut budget in the MFF sub-heading “Investing in People, Social Cohesion and Values”, including the Erasmus+ programme. A stronger investment in education and training would send a signal towards EU members and help to ensure that education does not become a victim of austerity measures and cuts resulting from the crisis.
Still to be determined is how the budget will be allocated to the different education sectors, higher education being one of them, and to specific key actions and action lines. It is concerning that the Erasmus+ negotiations have been on hold for several months due to a stalemate between the Commission and Parliament on the future decision-making procedures. Thus, overall, there is no clarity regarding the budget and the arrangements as of January 2021 - the planned start of the new Erasmus+ programme. This could lead to delays, as is already the case for third country cooperation under Erasmus+, financed by the Neighbourhood and Development budgets. The higher education sector urgently needs clarity on these issues, as they are additional unknown factors, on top of the planning insecurity presented by the pandemic.