The present paper has been drafted in collaboration between the Assocation for Catholic-Social Educational Centres in the Federal Republic of Germany (AKSB e.V.), the Office for the Youth Ministry of the German Bischops´ conference (AFJ), Catholic Adult Education of Germany (KEB), the European Federation for Catholic Adult Education (FEECA) and the Association of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ). Their members run 994 installations all over Europe and their non-formal educational activities reach 5.3 million young people and adults per year.

 

Assessment

 

On the 30th of May 2018 the European Commission presented a proposal for regulation establishing Erasmus, the Union programme for education, training, youth and sport for the time period 2021-2027. The catholic organisations welcome the document and regard the proposal as positive on a substantive level. We would especially like to highlight the following elements:

 

  1. The document proposes a budget increase from EUR 14,7 to EUR 30 billion. The proposed increase is very welcomed as many high quality applications for projects on youth and adult education are being rejected due to funding shortages. Should the proposed increase be approved, the rejection rates could be lowered significantly. Consequently, much more people could participate in Erasmus mobilities.

 

  1. The proposal to introduce “small-scale partnerships” involving simplified application and administration procedures acknowledges the fact that small organisations are valuable contributors to the Europeanisation of non-formal education.

 

  1. The new regulation proposal has improved in clarity and structure compared to the Erasmus+ regulation currently in force.

 

  1. In coordination with the focus of the EU-youth strategy on political participation of young people Youth Participation Activities will be introduced to the youth chapter as a new activity. The new activity will fund youth-led local and transnational projects to improve the participation in democratic life and contribute to communicating the EU and the promotion of common values. Owing to their extensive experiences in civic education, the catholic Organisations welcome the Youth Participation Activities.

 

  1. Jean-Monet actions for the funding of EU-studies are currently only accessible to academic institutions. The Commission now proposes to open Jean-Monet to centres of non-formal education. This would enable non-formal youth and adult education to organisation educational activities within this key action. As a result, education programmes on EU-affairs could be expanded.

 

  1. The announced simplifications of application and administrative procedures is most welcome. The objective to better standardise of the work of national agencies is commendable. Erasmus+ application forms contain redundant questions. The resulting forms of unnecessary length complicate the work with Erasmus needlessly. Vastly different approaches of national agencies when it comes to reporting, accounting and payment procedures confuse and frustrate participation organisations of transnational projects.

 

We ask the European Commission, the national governments in the Council of the EU and the European Parliament to support the proposal for Erasmus 2021-2027 and to ensure that the proposed budget of EUR 30 billion is approved in the negotiations to the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF).

 

Recommendations

 

If implemented the proposal for Erasmus 2021-2027 will have positive effects on the Europeanisation of Education in Europe and the uniting of our continent. Still, we would like to propose some minor modifications in order to optimise the programme further. The catholic organisations ask the European Commission, the national governments in the Council of the EU and the European Parliament to:

 

  1. Increase the budget for adult education to EUR 2 billion. The Europeanisations of adult education has so far been neglected and its significance for the implementation of the Union´s goals on Life Long Learning underestimated. Important target groups like the elderly, people with low basic education and the economically inactive have received little attention. However, these groups would profit greatly from a stronger Europeanisation of the sector. The EUR 1,19 billion proposed by the Commission will most likely be insufficient to fully realise the potential of adult education.

 

  1. The interrail travelling proposed in the context of DiscoverEU should be transformed into true study trips. DiscoverEU has to be implemented in a way that ensures full inclusiveness and guarantees adequate preparation in intercultural communication. Language preparation needs to be addressed and travellers need contact points for the duration of the trip to ensure emergencies, questions and concerns are dealt with immediately. A travelling route should be fixed before departure. To ensure the DiscoverEU journeys become stories of success there should be:

 

  1. compulsory preparation and de-briefing seminars
  2. sending organisations who organise these seminars and contribute to selecting participants. This would facilitate higher participation rates for persons with fewer opportunities.
  3. separate ticket allocations for various disadvantaged groups
  4. DiscoverEU should not be reserved to young people having turned 18. Participation should be opened to all age groups-

 

  1. To increase the budget proposal for youth to EUR 3,8 billion. According to the Commission proposal for the next MFF DiscoverEU will receive a budget of EUR 700 million from the Erasmus youth budget. Thus, a large part of the proposed budget increase for youth would flow into free interrail tickets. The budget increase from EUR 1,5 billion to EUR 3,1 billion is necessary to improve funding rates for youth exchanges and staff trainings which are well established and have a proven pedagogical value. In addition with the Youth Participation Activities a new and promising activity will be introduced. To ensure that the new activity will receive sufficient funding the budget allocation to DiscoverEU should be lowered or the youth budget should receive a top-up. To compensate the expenses for DiscoverEU the youth-budget should receive a further EUR 700 million. This would result in an overall budget of EUR 3,8 billion for youth.

 

  1. The announced simplification of application and administrative procedures should be fully implemented.

 

August 2018

The full paper can be downloaded here.