Citizens often turn to the European Parliament to ask how the European Union (EU) helps provide opportunities for citizens to study and learn abroad. Erasmus+ is the EU’s integrated education programme. Aiming to improve people’s skills and employability, it is open to people of all ages and occupations. The programme follows-up on many prior initiatives, which it combined and integrated.
Erasmus+: content and beneficiaries
Erasmus+ provides opportunities for students, staff, trainees, teachers, volunteers and others. Its benefits are available to all EU citizens, as well as non-EU citizens depending on their location. A distinction is made between programme countries (all EU countries as well as some others such as Iceland and Norway) who can take part in the whole Erasmus+ programme, and partner countries (non-EU countries such as Russia and China) who are only eligible for some parts of the programme, which are subject to specific conditions.
Erasmus+ is built on three key actions:
- Individual mobility: this includes activities such as studying abroad for a certain amount of time during university studies, or volunteering in another participating country;
- Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of best practices: this provides funding for organisations to work together and improve their practices, for example through meetings between educational institutions in different countries;
- Policy development: this funds and can promote organisations in line with EU policies – international youth organisations promoting cooperation, for example.
The 2021-2027 Erasmus+ programme, adopted in May 2021, doubles the funding of the previous programme, bringing it to over €26 billion. It is expected to contribute to establishing a European Education Area by 2025.
Additionally, the new programme is more sustainable and more inclusive, with improved access for people who had fewer opportunities in previous programmes. This includes people with disabilities, or those with financial difficulties in accessing educational opportunities. The programme also simplifies administrative procedures for small-sized organisations, and promotes the learning of digital skills.
The EU is aware that European programmes dedicated to young people are still inaccessible to those with fewer opportunities. To address this, the European Commission adopted measures to increase the inclusiveness and diversity of Erasmus+ in October 2021. Measures to support participants include preparatory visits, language support, enhanced mentoring or personalised coaching.
Following its exit from the EU, the United Kingdom has chosen not to take part in the 2021-2027 Erasmus+ programme. While some projects with multi-annual funding in which the UK takes part are still being phased out, the UK now has non-associated third country status. This means that only limited opportunities with worldwide eligibility will be available to UK citizens and organisations.
European Year of Youth 2022
In December 2021, the EU decided to make 2022 the European Year of Youth. The year will focus on re-establishing a positive outlook for young Europeans negatively affected by the Covid‑19 pandemic, by organising youth-focused and youth-centric activities and initiatives across all EU countries in 2022.
The European Year of Youth will include conferences, initiatives promoting youth participation in policy-making, and awareness-raising campaigns on a more inclusive, green and digital EU, as well as research into the situation of young Europeans. Further information is available in the Parliament and Commission press releases.
- Erasmus +, European Parliament
- Education and Vocational Training, European Parliament, Factsheet
- Erasmus 2021-2027: The Union programme for education, training, youth and sport, European Parliamentary Research Service, Briefing, July 2021
- Impact of the Erasmus+ programme, European Parliamentary Research Service, Briefing, April 2020
- Erasmus+: More than just mobility, European Parliamentary Research Service, At A Glance, September 2019
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