Brussels, 4 September 2013
Vassiliou backs Lithuanian EU Presidency's push for education and youth
Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will visit Lithuania on 5-10 September to support the Lithuanian EU Presidency’s push to ensure that quality education and opportunities for young people are at the top of the political agenda. During her visit, Commissioner Vassiliou will open the EU Youth Conference with Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania, and the 'European Higher Education in the World' Conference with Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius. The Commissioner will also meet Dainius Pavalkis, Minister of Education and Science, Algimanta Pabedinskienė, Minister of Social Security and Labour, and members of the Seimas (Parliament).
“I am pleased that the Lithuanian EU Presidency is stressing the importance of education and youth for sustainable growth and jobs,” said Commissioner Vassiliou. “This is a strong signal as we prepare for the launch of the EU's new Erasmus+ programme which will enable 4 million young Europeans to study, train, teach or volunteer abroad in the next seven years. I am particularly looking forward to discussing the new programme and the opportunities it will create when I meet students during my visit."
On 5 September, the Commissioner will take part in the Presidency conference in Vilnius on European Higher Education in the World. The discussion will focus on the European Commission's new strategy on internationalisation in higher education which calls for bolder measures to strengthen cooperation and mobility across the EU’s borders to enhance the quality of higher education and contribute to job creation and innovation (see IP/13/678).
Commissioner Vassiliou will underline the importance of developing comprehensive national and institutional strategies that go beyond mobility and encourage new types of partnerships. She will explain how the EU intends to contribute to these objectives through the new 'Erasmus+' and 'Horizon 2020' funding programmes. She will also visit the Scientific and Communication Centre at Vilnius University Library on 5 September.
The following day (6 September), she will meet students in Kaunas, from Vytautas Magnus University and other institutions, to discuss Erasmus+, the future of Europe and the role of education and training in overcoming the current crisis.
Measures to increase the social inclusion of young people, particularly those not in employment, education or training, will be the main focus of the EU Youth Conference (9-12 September in Vilnius). Commissioner Vassiliou will stress that the issue can only be addressed effectively by coordinating all relevant policy areas, including education, employment and, health, at national and EU level. She will also report on a review of the EU's 'structured dialogue' with young people, which allows young people to help shape EU policies which affect them. Around 100 youth representatives will relay feedback following consultations in their Member States. The aim is to produce joint conclusions which would be adopted by EU youth ministers later this year.
Commissioner Vassiliou will also meet members of the Seimas and open a Conference on Educational Leadership on 9 September; this will focus on how school leaders can improve the quality and efficiency of schools and training institutions. The event builds on the Commission’s ‘Rethinking Education’ initiative, which called on Member States to strengthen support for teachers, teacher educators and school leaders to improve learning outcomes.
Since 2007, Lithuania has received €76 million in EU funding from the Lifelong Learning Programme; this includes €39 million in Erasmus funding for higher education, €19 million for vocational education and training (Leonardo da Vinci), €13 million for cooperation between primary and secondary schools (Comenius), and €5 million for adult education (Grundtvig). Lithuania also received €16.6 million for youth from the EU's Youth in Action programme. In 2011-2012, more than 3 500 Lithuanian students received Erasmus grants to study or undertake a work placement abroad, while nearly 2 000 foreign students came to Lithuania in return. In 2012, more than 6 000 young people and youth workers from Lithuania participated in the Youth in Action programme.
Erasmus+, the EU’s new programme for education, training, youth and sport, is expected to be approved by the Parliament and the Council this autumn and will be launched in January 2014. It replaces the Lifelong Learning Programme as well as the EU's international education mobility programmes. Its streamlined structure will increase efficiency while reducing costs. With a total budget of around €14.5 billion, it will enable 4 million people to study, train, volunteer or gain work experience abroad in 2014-2020.
Young people, who have been hit disproportionally hard by the economic crisis, will be the main beneficiaries of Erasmus+. Currently, about 14 million Europeans aged 15-29 are not in employment, education and training (NEETs). NEETs are more likely to face poverty and social exclusion, or insecure and poor future employment prospects. They are also more likely to be involved in crime, or to suffer from mental and physical health problems. In 2011, the economic loss resulting from young people being out of work represented an estimated cost of €153 billion in Europe or 1.2% of GDP.
Erasmus+ will also strengthen education and training cooperation across EU borders – and beyond. Cooperation and mobility opportunities with non-EU partner countries will receive €400 million per year in support. The international dimension of Erasmus+ will build on the new 'European higher education in the world' strategy, launched by the European Commission on 11 July: by 2020 there will be some 7 million internationally mobile students in the world (compared with 4 million in 2010), mostly from Asia, Latin America or the Middle East. Today, Europe attracts about 45%, or 1.8 million, of the students who are mobile each year.
For more information
European Commission: Education and training
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