By / October 13, 2013

Future European Union education, training, youth and sport programme(s)

Updated on 12 December 2013. European Commission launched a proposal for “Erasmus for All” on 23 November 2011.  The new EU…

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Updated on 12 December 2013. European Commission launched a proposal for “Erasmus for All” on 23 November 2011.  The new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport, renamed Erasmus+, was approved by the European Parliament on 19 November 2013 (EP press release and background note). It is due to begin in January 2014 (Commission’s Press release and FAQ).

“Erasmus+” shall replace the existing programmes: Lifelong Learning Programme (Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius and Grundtvig), Youth in Action, and five international cooperation programmes (Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, Alfa, Edulink and the programme for cooperation with industrialised countries). Bringing these programmes together shall improve efficiency and accessibility, simplify  application rules and procedures, as well as avoid fragmentation and duplication. The new programme would be open to organisations involved in every stage of lifelong learning – schools, colleges, universities, adult education and community learning organisations, the youth sector etc. Up to 4 million people, almost twice as many as now, will get the chance to study or train abroad with a grant from Erasmus+. Among them would be nearly 2.7 million higher education and vocational students. Full-time Masters’ students will also benefit from a new loan guarantee scheme set up with the European Investment Bank Group.

© andresinfinite/fotolia
© andresinfinite/fotolia


European Commission’s DG Education and Culture website provides information on Erasmus+, notably key figures and a detailed presentation wich provides an overview of the key actions and objectives. Four impact assessments in the field of education and training, youth, international cooperation in higher education and sport were published (see also executive summary). In order to understand the aims and objectives of the proposed “Erasmus+” Programme, it is useful to get an overview of current programmes that are meant to be brought together and replaced by Erasmus for all:

  • Comenius, (2004/0153 (COD)) which focuses on all levels of school education, from pre-school and primary to secondary schools;
  • Erasmus, (2004/0153 (COD)) with an emphasis on  study  and work abroad, fostering co-operation between higher education institutions across Europe;
  • Grundtvig, (2004/0153 (COD)) core programme for adult education;
  • Leonardo da Vinci, (2004/0153 (COD)) funding practical projects in the field of vocational education and training;
  • Jean Monnet, (2004/0153 (COD)) stimulates teaching, research and reflection on European integration in higher education institutions worldwide. It includes the creation of Jean Monnet Chairs.
  • Youth in Action, (2004/0152(COD)) promoting mobility within EU non-formal learning and intercultural dialogue, and inclusion of young people.
  • Erasmus Mundus (2007/0145 (COD)) aims to enhance quality in higher education through scholarships and academic cooperation between Europe and the rest of the world.
  • Tempus building co-operation between the EU and neighbouring regions.
  • Alfa supporting co-operation between higher education institutions in the EU and Latin America.
  • Edulink capacity-building and regional integration in higher education in ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) states and regions;
  • Co-operation with industrialised countries enhancing the quality of higher education and vocational education and training, mainly through joint study programmes

Some figures will also shed a light on the new p rogramme:

Overall budget €14.7 billion Overall mobility opportunities 4 million people
Higher education 2 million students Staff mobility 800,000 teachers, trainers, youth workers and staff
Vocational education and training 650,000 students Volunteer and youth exchange schemes 500,000 young people
Master degree loan guarantee scheme 200,000 students Schools 200,000+ teachers collaborating on-line
involving 100,000+ schools through e-twinning
Joint degree grants 25,000+ students  Strategic Partnerships  ca 25,000 linking together 125,000  schools,
vocational education and training institutions,
higher and adult education institutions, youth
organisations and enterprises

What is new in Erasmus+

Funding for Sport: Erasmus+ includes, for the first time, a dedicated budget line for sport. It will allocate around €265 million over seven years to contribute to developing the European dimension in sport. It will support transnational projects involving organisations in grassroots sport, promoting, for example, good governance, social inclusion, dual careers and physical activity for all.

Master students loan guarantee scheme: students planning a full Master’s degree in another European country will benefit from a new loan guarantee scheme run by the European Investment Fund (see Erasmus loans for masters students will greatly expand mobility / Adam Tyson in University World News, 11.05.2013).

Knowledge Alliances and Sector Skills Alliances: 300 alliances are expected, involving 3500 education institutions and enterprises working together to address skills gaps and foster entrepreneurship by improving curricula and qualifications through cooperation between the worlds of work and education.

Open Access requirement: it will ensure that all educational materials are freely accessible to all, based on the principle that anything paid for with public money should benefit the public. Whenever an Erasmus+ beneficiary produces educational materials with funding from Erasmus+, they will have to make them available to the public through the use of Open Licences and via Open Educational Resources (OER).

For further sources please also consult the Library Briefing on Youth programmes and policies in the EU, of December 2011.


Evaluation of past activities within European Commission education and training programmes are available in a number of  of studies, notes and reports, requested by the European Commission and European Parliament, or other research bodies. The following list is a selection:

  • EP, DG IPOL PolDep B: Erasmus for All (2014-2020) / Guy Haug, Bernd Wächter  May 2012
    The proposed Erasmus for All programme (2014-2020) envisions bringing together a wide range of EU activities in higher, school, vocational and adult education, youth policy and grassroots sports. This briefing note presents and reviews the proposed context, architecture, content, and management structure. Further, it
    makes ten recommendations to ensure that the proposed programme not only seeks to streamline management efficiency but also pays sufficient attention to the individual policy needs of the various sectors. Finally, it gives a detailed outline of the planned action and budget allocation.
  • EP, DG IPOL PolDep B: Improving the Participation in the Erasmus Programme / Hans Vossensteyn et al. for EP DG IPOL, resp. Ana Maria Nogueira. July 2010.
    The study explores the extent to which European students experience financial and other barriers to participation in the ERASMUS programme. Main barriers to participation vary significantly between countries, with the exception of financial issues, which are an important concern for students everywhere. ERASMUS participation is associated with students’ socio-economic background, primarily influenced by individual preferences and cost-benefit considerations rather than questions of affordability. Other barriers to ERASMUS participation include problems with study credit recognition, as well as insufficient language skills and existing personal commitments.
  • Study of the impact of Comenius In-Service Training activities / Friedhelm Maiworm, Heiko Kastner and Hartmut Wenzel.
    Impact study produced for the European Commission underlines the positive effects for teachers and other school staff of going abroad for in-service training. Participants in the EU’s Comenius programme said that training in an international environment helped them in their professional and personal development, improved their teaching methods, foreign language skills and boosted their motivation. More than that, the joint training events gather teachers from several countries and often lead to international co-operation between schools.
  • Is the design and management of the mobility scheme of the Leonardo da Vinci Programme likely to lead to effective results / Court of Auditors, No4/2010.
    The overall conclusion of the report  is that the design and management of the mobility scheme of the Leonardo da Vinci Programme could lead to effective results. The report states that the Commission started but has not yet completed the establishment of a comprehensive system for the measurement of the impact of Leonardo. As a result , the Commission cannot yet assess how the objectives are being met three years into the programme —around half of its lifespan.


On 27 March 2012, EP’s Culture and Education Committee held a Public Hearing “Defining a future EU education and youth programme“. Four experts shared their opinions on the Commission proposal. Dr. Thomas SPIELKAMP (Deputy Director Pädagogischer Austauschdient, Kultusministerkonferenz, Germany) argued that the Comenius brand name was synonymous with innovation and should be preserved in the forthcoming programme. “Erasmus for All” was too vague a title & its streamlined format too simplistic for a complex reality. It also ran the risk of passing the administrative burden onto schools. Mr. Peter MATJASIC (European Youth Forum) argued that “Youth in Action” should remain as a separate programme after 2014. He emphasised the importance of soft skills gained through non-formal education & argued that the new funding should not be directed solely at projects. Dr. Siegberg WUTTIG (DAAD) emphasised the need to keep the distinct & well-known separate sub-programmes (Erasmus, Leonardo, etc) & their names. A specified share of the overall programme budget should be dedicated to projects in each of the separate educational areas, & the total sum so dedicated should be much higher than the 56% proposed by the Commission. The programme, Dr Wuttig said, was probably better than one might conclude from reading the Commission proposal. Mr Pasi SAHLBERG (Centre for International Mobility & Cooperation, CIMO, Helsinki) set the Commission proposal in a wide context, speaking about the impact of the EU mobility programmes in Nordic Europe & recounting the perspective of an individual national agency. He put particular emphasis on life-long learning, adult learning and citizenship within the programme, as well as greater third country involvement. Mr. Jordi CURELL (Director for lifelong learning, DG EAC) spoke for the Commission, offering to defend of the Commission proposal against the many fundamental criticisms. In particular, he defended what he maintained was a necessary simplification of the multi-annual programmes into three cross-cutting actions in all areas of education. In her concluding remarks, the Chair (& rapporteur for “Erasmus for All”) took up many of the points raised by, in particular, Dr. Spielkamp & Dr. Wuttig. Keeping well-known programme names, maintenance of distinct sectoral sub-programmes, clear shares of the overall budget for each of these amounting to 80% or more of the total budget, the need for a flexible approach to administration through national agencies (one agency in some Member States, several in others). The presentations are available on the Committee’s events pages.

Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD)

  • Wo bitte geht’s hier nach Bologna? / Christiane Schmeken, DAAD, Bonn 2011.
    This text argues in favour of an evolution of the Bologna process towards more student participation and an opening to the world they live in. Quality assurance is taken as an example of how self-reflectivity prevents the process from moving on. The reform’s role is ambivalent, with students being put right into the centre of the learning process, while at the same time defining them on the basis of their employability.
  • Wer sich bewegt, bewegt Europa. Der DAAD und die EU-Programme / Nationale Agentur für EU-Hochschulzusammenarbeit im Deutschen Akademischen Austauschdienst (DAAD), 2011.
    The brochure explains the German academics exchange service’s (DAAD) attitude towards EU funded programs for student exchange. It provides information about the Erasmus, Erasmus-Mundus and ASEM programmes as well as about the Bologna process.
  • Erasmus for All – points from the DARE (Democracy and Human Rights Education) network that should be considered

Bildung für Europa: Nationale Agentur beim Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (BIBB)

Auf dem Weg zur neuen Programmgeneration: ERASMUS+ für Bildung, Jugend und Sport, June 2013
The text presents the compromise negotiated in June 2013 by the Irish Presidency. It stresses the shift from a sector (of education) oriented structure of the programme to actions.

Center for international mobility (CIMO)

  • CIMO in brief /CIMO, 2012.
    CIMO is an organisation for international mobility and cooperation, providing expertise and services to clients at home and abroad. Established in 1991, CIMO is an independent agency under the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. Its main task is to promote international cooperation and mobility in with specific emphasis on education, training, working life, culture and young people.
  • Services by sector /CIMO, 2012.
    CIMO’s services and programmes for the different sectors of education, cultural cooperation and youth work.
  • Nordplus and other Nordic programmes /CIMO, 2012.
    Nordplus is the Nordic Council of Ministers’ programme of lifelong learning. CIMO is the national agency for the programme in Finland and the main administrator of Nordplus Higher Education.

Group of 30 stakeholders

30 stakeholder adopt common messages on “Erasmus for All ” Programme / European Civil Society Platform on Lifelong Learning (EUCIS-LLL), March 2012
As announced by EUCIS-LLL, the coalition supports raise of the budget and  welcomes procedural simplification of  the relevant programmes. On the other hand, it proposes certain adjustments in terms of rainforcement of the lifelong learning dimension and recognition of the aims and objectives of non-formal education. Furthermore, it is recommended to better acknowledge the importance of civil dialogue and civil society and the support to them.

AEGEE (European Students’ Forum), ESN (Erasmus Student Network) and ESU (European Student Union)
Europe’s biggest student organisations, representing more than 11 million students and 30.000 volunteers from 47 countries, call upon the European Union decision-makers for adequate support to education and youth programmes in the budget negotiations under the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020.

European Youth Forum


“Erasmus for All’ or for some? / EUROCHAMBRES 24 November 2011
Eurochamber’s representatives claim how they still do not believe sufficient importance is attached to Vocational Education and Training; Also, in their opinion, the structures that are required by companies to increase Europe-wide mobility of apprentices is missing.

Erasmus Student Network (ESN)

ESN contribution to the Communication from the Commission ERASMUS FOR ALL: The EU Programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport / Erasmus Student Network (ESN), 2012.
ESN strongly supports Commission’s proposal, acknowledging that the key role of mobility within higher education should remain to foster EU citizenship.

European Student Union

Students’ worries neglected in an agreement on Erasmus+ 28.06.2013
ESU has fought fiercely against the new and experimental EU Master Degree Loan Guarantee Facility. ESU believes it is unwise to introduce such a scheme in times of economic uncertainty and that students would be reluctant to take up more debt. Instead, the money could be invested in more successful education projects.

European students oppose the Master’s Degree Loan Guarantee Scheme 3.05.2013
ESU demands for the money originally planned to establish the loan scheme to be directed towards supporting student mobility through grants. ESU estimates that this proposal ignores the potential impact such a scheme can bring, such as raising the level of debt among young people or instigating brain drain from less developed regions.

European University Association

Results of EUA Membership consultation on EC Proposal for Erasmus for all, March 2012
EUA response to the Erasmus for All proposal of the EC, June 2012

Deutscher Bundesjugendring (DBJR)

Position of Deutscher Bundesjugendring about “Erasmus for All” proposal / DBJR, 2012
Reaction of DBJR shows expected similarities with ones coming from other youth organisations. It urges European Commission to pay greater attention on Youth in Action Programme. Current proposal, from the viewpoint of DBJR, focuses mainly on formal education what can cause negative consequences for aspects of non-formal learning.

Katholische Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft für Erwachsenenbildung (KBE)

Opinion of the KBE  to the European Commission’s  proposal for the program “Erasmus for All” / KBE, 2012
KBE criticises the proposal of the European Commission from the position that adult education will no longer represent a separate programme, but will treated as a part of vocational training. KBE is advocating its commitment to “maintain a sectoral approach in the new EU educational programme that recognizes the importance of the individual educational areas and provides those with own budget.”


Key data on education in Europe / Eurydice and Eurostat, 2012
A collection of statistics, data and indicators on education in 31 European countries.

Education at a Glance 2011: OECD Indicators /OECD, 2011
Broad array of comparative indicators on education systems. The publication represents the consensus of professional thinking on how to measure the current state of education internationally. The indicators show who participates in education, how much is spent on it, and how education systems operate. They also illustrate a wide range of educational outcomes, comparing, for example, student performance in key subjects and the impact of education on earnings and on adults’ chances of employment.

Participation in Lifelong Learning in Europe: What can be measured and compared? /Mircea Badescu and Michaela Saisan, 2008 (Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizens)
The study analyses participation patterns in lifelong learning in the European countries, describes the European political context in the field of lifelong learning and discusses the main monitoring issues at the EU level. Indicators on participation in education and training at various life-time stages are as well presented.

Main steps leading to the adoption

Ms Pack’s draft report was presented to the CULT committee on 19 September 2012. The committee’s deliberations had to take place in the absence of a decision about the overall budget for the programme: this would be available only after the conclusion of the MFF negotiations. The main changes as presented in the report were:

  • the introduction of a separate chapter for a youth sub-programme;
  • the re-introduction of sectoral sub-programmes, with specific objectives, for higher, school, vocational, and adult education & the retention of well-established brand names (Erasmus, Comenius, etc);
  • improvements to the architecture of the proposal to make it clearer & more logical;
  • the maintenance of a list of named organisations active at European level in the field, the operating costs of which might be met from the Jean Monnet action;
  • the earmarking of a much higher proportion (90%) of the overall budget for the individual sub-programmes than foreseen by the Commission (56%);
  • an explicit mention of grassroots sport;
  • a greater degree of flexibility for Member States concerning the number of agencies to administer the different elements of the programme;
  • a new name for the programme – “YES Europe programme for youth, education and sport”;
  • an additional legal basis (Article 165(2)TFE) complementing the proposed par. 4 & 5 of Article 165 TFE.

The report (A7-0405/2012) was adopted (with amendments) in the Committee meeting of 27 November 2012 (Press release). Plenary vote had initially been foreseen for the January 2013 session. Given the difficult negotiations for the Multiannual Framework Programme (MFF) for the period from 2014 to 2020 as well as the 2013 budget  plenary reading was postponed. The ongoing budget negotiations also risked to threaten the current activities in the Erasmus programme. Due to a deal achieved between the three Presidents of Council, Commission and Parliament on 12 December 2012 the Erasmus budget for 2013 was secured (EP press release). The functioning of Erasmus is explained in another EP press release of 19 December 2012. On 15 February 2013 Council published an outlook paper in which it presented its view of future setps, the Commission published a memo on the state of play the same day (MEMO/13/105). Council also established a webpage on its discussions of 15 February 2013. On 26 June 2013 the outgoing Irish Presidency of the Council reached an agreement with Commission and Parliament. The programme was renamed into “Erasmus +” and the Irish Presidency’s press release of the same day gives a brief summary of the major points.

The agreement reached with the Council (a CULT committee working document PE521.609 of 14 October 2013 sums up the history of negotiations) was approved by the Committee on 5 November (press release). The text was adopted by the European Parliament in plenary on 19 November 2013 and by the Council on 3 December 2013 (press release) [for Council documents on the subject please check here]. The first calls under the new programme are expected to be published in December.

Several MEPs accompanied the negotiations with questions to the European Commission:

  • on budgetary issues: P-006103-13 by Isabelle Thomas answered on 3.07.2013; E-001545-13 by Liam Aylward, answered on 15.03.2013; E-011104-12 by Edite Estrela, answered 22.01.2013; E-010593-12 by Marc Tarabella, answered on 17.01.2013; P-010720-12 by Elena Băsescu, answered on 18.12.2012; E-009747-12 by Filip Kaczmarek, answered on 07.12.2012 and P-008945/2012 by Francisco Sosa Wagner, answered on 15.11.2012; E-008294/2012 by Angelika Werthmann, answered on 5.11.2012
  • on the Student loan guarantee: P-007071-13 by Zuzana Roithová, answered on 15.07.2013; E-005229-13 by Inês Cristina Zuber, answered on 21.06.2013; E-010646-12 by Juozas Imbrasas, answered on 18.01.2013; E-008977-12 by Morten Løkkegaard, answered on 3.12.2012; E-006988/2012 by Mitro Repo, answered on 21.09.2012;E-004413/2012, by Zoltán Bagó, answered on 27.06.2012.
  • other parliamentary questions: E-008600-13 by James Nicholson, answered on 9.08.2013; E-007416-13 by Lena Kolarska-Bobińska, answered on 2.08.2013; E-002310-13 by Various, answered on 22.04.2013; E-001145-13 by Ádám Kósa, answered on 26.03.2013; E-003383/2012 by Monika Flašíková Beňová, answered on 14.06. 2012; E-003264/2012 Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, answered on 1.06.2012; E-002638/2012 by PPE, answered on 14.05.2012; E-002586/2012 by Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska, answered on 25.04.2012; E-002026/2012 by Graham Watson, answered on 17.04.2012

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