MEPs approve new, more inclusive Erasmus+ programme

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.

On Tuesday, MEPs adopted ERASMUS+, the 2021-2027 edition of the EU’s flagship programme for education, training, youth and sports.

The programme, which has demonstrated that it plays a significant role in fostering European identity, will have almost double the funding in 2021-2027 (over 28 billion EUR from different sources) when compared to the previous seven years (14.7 billion EUR).

MEPs managed to secure an additional 1.7 billion EUR during the final stages of negotiations with the Council.

In the plenary debate ahead of the approval of the programme, most speakers said that young peoples’ lives have been affected by COVID-19 and stressed the importance of Erasmus+, evaluated by citizens as the most successful EU programme, for Europe’s future generations. You can watch the debate again here.

More inclusion

The new Erasmus+ will offer more tools and resources to support inclusion. The Commission and member states must come up with action plans to improve access to learning and mobility for people who historically have had fewer opportunities to participate – people living with a disability, people living in poverty, in a remote location, people with a migration background, and more.

Those who do not have sufficient means to cover the initial costs to take part in the programme (such as buying a train ticket or booking accomodation) can receive top-up grants, including up-front payments. Applications cannot be rejected for having higher costs if those are linked to measures that guarantee inclusion.

Mobility for adult learners

Compared to the previous Erasmus+, the new programme will expand to support time spent in a different EU country for up to six months for students in adult education. It will help people of all ages and backgrounds acquire new work and life skills, helping them better adapt to the changes brought about by the coming green and digital transitions as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Simplified access to a ‘greener’ Erasmus+

The new Erasmus+ will be simpler and more manageable for applicants, with more user-friendly IT systems and less paperwork. It will offer a special “small-scale partnerships” funding scheme for smaller organisations, such as youth associations and sports clubs.

The programme will also measure its contribution to achieving the EU’s climate spending targets and reduce its own environmental footprint, for example by incentivising climate-friendly means of transportation for participants.

Innovative models of education

The DiscoverEU initiative will now be part of Erasmus+. It gives young people the opportunity to apply for a free pass to travel around Europe in order to learn (e.g. attend an intensive language class or participate in a museum workshop) and discover Europe’s cultural and linguistic diversity.

The “European Universities” initiative will enable students to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries. The third initiative – “Centres of Vocational Excellence” will create local, internationally connected skills ecosystems. Click to learn more


“Erasmus+ is one of the EU’s programmes with significantly higher funding and it includes many substantial changes and improvements, so it can continue strengthening a European sense of belonging and offer better chances of employment to Europeans”, said rapporteur Milan Zver (EPP, SL). “Parliament will closely monitor its implementation to ensure that Erasmus+ is becoming more inclusive and providing opportunities to as many people as possible”, he added.

Sabine Verheyen (EPP, DE), Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education, said: “Erasmus+ is a European success story and thanks to our efforts, we will be able to continue with it. It connects people from all backgrounds and helps create a truly European community. Because of the pandemic, young people and all those who are keen to learn, study and meet new people are facing huge challenges – it is even harder on those from marginalised backgrounds. Now more than ever, it is important for Europe to reach out and meet them where they are by giving them the tools to grow, strive, and connect with each other. Nobody must be left behind. That’s exactly what we are trying to do with the new generation of Erasmus+.”

Next steps

In order to ensure a smooth transition from the previous programme period, retroactivity provisions in the regulation ensure that the new Erasmus+ enters into effect from 1 January 2021. Application processes and calls for proposals have already been set in motion by the Commission and in many member states.

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