The mid-term revision of Erasmus+

At the moment the European Union is in the process of revising the Erasmus+ programme, as indicated in the legislative framework which gave birth to this funding programme back in 2013.

This is an important moment for organisations like EFIL to voice our needs and concerns regarding the current programme, and to suggest improvements. In fact, small changes can be done at this stage of the programme, and advocacy needs to start for the new programme which will be adopted for the period from 2020 and onwards.

The two Platforms EFIL is part of, the European Youth Forum and the Lifelong Learning Platform, built the so-called Erasmus+ Coalition in order to respond in the strongest and most united way to this process. The Coalition had informal meetings over the summer and was launched officially on 11 October during the Lifelong Learning Week. The Coalition also issued a joint position.

The revision is made by several steps:

European Parliament:

  • Draft Report of the European Parliament, by MEP Milan Zver, to be adopted by the end of the year in Plenary. The report was drafted also on the basis of the Report ‘ERASMUS+: DECENTRALISED IMPLEMENTATION – FIRST EXPERIENCES’ commissioned by the EP to ACA – Academic Cooperation Association.

European Commission:

  • Report of the European Commission, to be released in Autumn 2017  and compiling results from:
  1. A Europe-wide report drafted by a consultancy
  2. Reports drafted by Erasmus+ National agencies (30 pages for each programme country)
  3. Public consultation Europe-wide to be launched soon

The Lifelong Learning Platform has conducted a wide survey addressed to Erasmus+ beneficiaries, in order to feed this revision process with meaningful input from civil society. They collected more than 700 responses. Here you can see the summary of the answers.

The LLL Platform has compiled an Erasmus+ Comparison of the different data from the joint position and the draft report on implementation and EP (ACA) report on the decentralisation of the programme. The main points that are missing in the draft report, compared to the answers of the survey and the joint position paper are the following:

  • Harmonisation of the program is mentioned when it comes to merging of different actions, different IT tools and common rebranding but there is no reference to standardisation of rules and tools used by different NAs to support and inform beneficiaries about the program.
  • Simplification and user friendliness of the program: while the report agrees that the program should be simplified but it doesn’t not indicate the bureaucracy – administrative burden and user friendliness of the new application forms, reporting templates and amendments procedures.
  • Management of the program: while nothing is mentioned about it in the report, we would like to advocate for involvement and active participation of CSOs (and the EP) in the Erasmus+ program committee and exploring the possibility to create youth subcommittee.
  • Financial provision of the program: is also a weak point of the draft report that doesn’t cover our views on increasing the budget lines to respond to the increasing demand, to the need of the different target groups and to ensure equal access to all type of beneficiaries, as well as how the 200 million addition in funding will be distributed.
  • Small-sized organisations vs large European networks accessing the program: this concern seems to be irrelevant: both need support.
  • Last but not least the support to civil society organisations and recognition of their role in promoting the programme, improving its quality and overcoming barriers (not a single mention of CSOs in the draft report) + no proposal in the report for a solution for European NGOs.

The main issues faced by EFIL, and many other similar organisations, is due to the decentralisation of the programme to national agencies. In fact, for big strategic projects – namely Key Action 2 Strategic partnerships- is allocated to National agencies, which do not have enough budget to fund the quality projects they receive. Moreover, decision on projects to be funded take place at national level with no concertation among the 28+ National agencies, therefore there is a great risk that very similar strategic projects are funded at the same time across Europe, with an obvious waste of resources. Therefore EFIL advocates for this action to be managed at European level.

Moreover, for funding for trainings, namely Key Action 1 Mobility of youth workers, EFIL needs to apply to the National agencies in Belgium, since there is no management of this action at European-central level. This means that there is great competition for a limited budget. Moreover, the national agencies priorities in terms of internationalisation of local youth work, just do not match with those of European networks such as EFIL.

Indeed it looks like the nationalistic wibe in Europe has also hit Erasmus+ and it will be increasingly difficult to promote a true European dimension for projects, while National agencies will decide independently how to allocate funds on the basis of general priorities established at European level. The Coalition keeps asking for moving at least 5% of the budget of Key Action 2 (Strategic partnerships) at central level but this was already not accepted for the negotiations of the Erasmus+ budget 2017.

Some good news is that the European Commission made a Proposal on New EU Financial Regulation where volunteer time contribution is accepted as co-funding in project budgets.  Also, the European Commission and the European Parliament want to invest more and more in volunteering and the European Voluntary Service programme and EFIL, together with other youth organisations, is actively following this development.

For more information: elisa.briga@afs.org