Celebrating 35 years of the Erasmus programme

(Credit: Unsplash)

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


To mark the 35th anniversary of the emblematic Erasmus+ programme, Vice-President Margaritis Schinas and Commissioner Mariya Gabriel will meet 35 current and former Erasmus+ participants as well as representatives of the founding team of the programme, on Tuesday, 20 September 2022. The event will honour the achievements of the programme, that has involved 13 million people since its creation in 1987.

Ahead of the event, Vice-President for Promoting the European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “Erasmus+ is a 35-year-old success story that has provided life-changing opportunities to millions of people. I could not think of a better and more compelling example of what “European way of life” concretely means. I look forward to exchanging with the participants about their experiences and with the programme founders who planted the seeds for this great programme more than three decades ago.”

Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said: “Erasmus+ is a true European success story. The numbers speak for themselves: by now, almost 13 million participants have been able to learn, work or train abroad. Every year, more than 600, 000 Europeans make use of the opportunities Erasmus+ offers. And they all tell us the same afterwards: that the programme is life-changing. Since its creation in 1987, Erasmus+ raises new generations of educated, trained, committed Europeans, connected beyond borders. And that truly is a reason to celebrate.”  

Each participant will share personal experiences, and discuss achievements and challenges of the EU’s flagship programme for education, training, youth and sport.

There have been substantial changes to the Erasmus+ over the years; it has been continuously modernised, expanded and opened up to countries that were not part of it in its early days. Starting with just 3,000 university students, the programme now offers cooperation and mobility opportunities in school education for pupils and teachers, in vocational education and training, higher education and adult education, as well as projects for apprentices, young people, youth workers, and even (as of 2023) sport coaches. This enlargement in geographic and sectoral scope resulted in 2021, despite the adverse sanitary situation, in over 615.000 realised mobilities. In 2014, the name changed to Erasmus+ to mark the broadening of the programme to all education fields as well as Youth and Sport. Erasmus+ brings opportunities for all ages to discover other countries through a wide choice of participating organisations.

Challenges have been turned into opportunities, as Erasmus+ was adapted to quickly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic through simplified rules and procedures to better accommodate for mobilities, and with two extraordinary calls for proposals to support digital education readiness and creative skills.

Following the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, the Erasmus+ programme ensured the greatest possible flexibility in implementing projects with a view to providing support to Ukrainian learners and education staff.

The current 2021-2027 Erasmus+ edition marks the integration of DiscoverEU into the programme. With this change and thanks to the exceptional funding granted in the context of the 2022 European Year of Youth, 70,000 travel tickets are being made available in 2022. DiscoverEU is open to 18 year-olds and gives the opportunity to discover Europe through travelling and learning experiences. The next application round will open on 11 October, and is now open to candidates from the EU and all Erasmus+ programme countries, namely Iceland, Liechtenstein, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia and Turkey.

Viewers are invited to watch the discussion on 20 September live on the Erasmus+ website and on social media. They will also be able to participate and contribute to the debate online.

Background

Erasmus+ was created in 1987, providing learning mobility opportunities to just 3000 university students. Since then, around 13 million people have taken part in the Erasmus+ programme.

For the period 2021-2027, Erasmus+ has an estimated budget of €26.2 billion, which is nearly doubled compared to the predecessor programme (2014-2020), and furthermore completed by around €2.2 billion from the EU external cooperation instrument.  

Erasmus+ mobility and cooperation projects support the green and digital transitions, while helping to foster active citizenship and greater participation in democratic life.  Inclusion remains a core priority of the programme to allow more people to learn and participate in transnational projects but also to reach out to increasing numbers of people with fewer opportunities.

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