CULT lawmakers warn: “Negotiating box” offer is bad news for young people

They call on EU leaders to think again before cutting the budget for Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps

Photo: EP Sabine Verheyen.

With cutting Erasmus+ funding by further 14%, the latest proposal for long-term EU budget, tabled by EUCO President Charles Michel, is at odds with the idea of 'Next Generation EU', Culture and Education Committee (CULT) members warned ahead of European Council summit.

As EU leaders will meet on 17 and 18 July to decide on the next long-term budget, CULT Chair Sabine Verheyen (EPP, DE), Erasmus+ Rapporteur Milan Zver (EPP, SI), Creative Europe Rapporteur Massimiliano Smeriglio (S&D, IT), and European Solidarity Corps Rapporteur Michaela Šojdrová (EPP, CZ) issued a statement, commenting on the draft “negotiating box”, presented by Presidnt Michel on 10 July.

"Charles Michel's suggested budget compromise for Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps has taken a very low Commission proposal and managed to lower it even further. When he was Prime Minister of Belgium, he publicly called for a 'ten-times Erasmus' and a budget focused on young people. It's not clear what has happened, but he was right the first time when he said the EU budget should be future-focused."

How can we talk about Next Generation EU when we take opportunities away from that next generation, said MEPs asserting that this new proposal is bad news for young people. The budget now on the table for all three programmes will severely hamper their effectiveness and we will be offering fewer opportunities for people to study, learn or volunteer at a time when we need more, they pointed out.

 "For Erasmus+, the Parliament is clear that our priority is to expand access to core activities and make the programme more inclusive. With a budget proposal that is 20% below the Commission's 2018 proposal and 48% below the Parliament's position, it will not be possible to fund 'European Universities' or 'Vocational Education and Training Centres of Excellence' or to offer young people the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to #DiscoverEU. Erasmus+ cannot be all things to all people if the budget is not there to back up the rhetoric."

They also underlined that the proposed budget for European Solidarity Corps, is 20% below what the Commission proposed in 2018. With that level of funding, we will be able to give fewer people the chance to gain invaluable life experiences and skills through a volunteering placement in the Corps. And we will have to focus on the core activity of volunteering at the expense of the jobs and traineeships strand, they emphasised.

"Our message to our heads of state and government is clear – please think again. We must deliver a budget that meets the needs and expectations of our citizens."

We note that Charles Michel calls for a reinforcement of the Creative Europe budget and we sincerely hope that reinforcement is substantial as our cultural and creative and media sectors desperately need more support, CULT MEPs stressed.


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