Brussels, 26 November 2012
Education Council: Commissioner Vassiliou issues stark warning on funding for Erasmus
Statement by Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, at the meeting of the EU Education Ministers in Brussels on 26 November.
"The situation surrounding Erasmus [and the Lifelong Learning Programme] is now very serious. Unless there is a rapid response to the request for additional funding credits for 2012 which the Commission adopted on 23 October, the Commission will start 2013 owing reimbursements of about €220 million to the national agencies for the expenses incurred in 2012 [implementing the Lifelong Learning Programme].
The Commission's intention was to reimburse this backlog from 2013 funds, thereby at least securing funding for current and further Erasmus mobilities in early 2013. This would, however, come at the cost of further depleting 2013 funds, setting the scene for substantial and real problems in the second half of the year.
I can tell you now that prospects for 2013 are in fact worse, especially if the present impasse regarding the 2013 budget persists. Without going into the technical detail, the combination of no response on the 2012 budget with no budget agreement for 2013 means that disruption of Erasmus exchanges will happen sooner rather than later in the New Year.
It is also clear that until we have a solution which addresses both the shortfall in 2012 and the budget for 2013, the Erasmus funding problem will persist.
I know that all of us here agree, even in the context of different national and institutional positions on the major budget issues we are facing, wish to avoid damaging the prospects of our young people as they seek to use Erasmus to progress in their studies, perfect their skills and accumulate valuable experiences.
That is why I have instructed my services to look into all possibilities of prioritising Erasmus mobility by looking into the feasibility of diverting funds from areas of the programmes under my responsibility. That is why I will also explore with my fellow Commissioners the possibility to divert funds from other programme areas across the budget of the Commission. I think that actions such as Erasmus which touch directly on the lives of young Europeans should be the last to be cut.
However, let me not leave you in any doubt: at best, the scope to divert funds in this way is limited. It might mitigate the problem or postpone it. It will not avert it. Only action in the form of a broad agreement between the Council and the European Parliament on the EU budget for the years 2012 and 2013 can do that. And that, as we know, also depends on wider agreement on the Financial Framework for the period after 2013.
In the meantime, I strongly believe that it should not be Europe's young people who have to pay the price of the current disagreement between institutions". FAQ on Erasmus and its budget (MEMO/12/816)