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Erasmus+ midterm evaluation marks momentum in the debate on the future of education

The much-awaited mid-term evaluation of the Erasmus+ programme was published by the European Commission on 31 January 2018, providing the perfect occasion to think about the impact of the programme until 2020 – and beyond. For the period 2014-2020, the programme has a budget of EUR 16.45 billion and aims to provide mobility to over 4 million persons. Since the beginning of this programming period, 1.8 million individuals took part in mobility activities, with more than 240.000 organisations involved in cooperation projects. 

In brief, the mid-term evaluation shows that the programme has proven to have an undisputable European added value, contributing to a more cohesive Union and to a stronger sense of feeling ‘European’. Erasmus+ is highly effective, contributing to the acquisition of skills and competences and hence increasing employability. The evaluation also confirms the programme’s capacity to absorb a potential overall budget increase, in which case the current share-out between the sectors of the programme could be modified to reinforce sectors such as school education, vocational education and training, in which a budget increase would traduce itself into an impact gain. 

The next Erasmus+ allocated budget was also referred to in the latest European Commission’s Communication of 14 February A new, modern Multiannual Financial Framework for a European Union that delivers efficiently on its priorities post-2020. In the document it is stated that the current Erasmus+ budget only offers learning mobility opportunities for less than 4% of young people living in Europe and estimates are provided: doubling the number of young people in the EU participating in Erasmus+ to reach 7.5% of young people across Europe would require an investment of EUR 30 billion in the next Multiannual Financial Framework (over a seven-year period). Providing the opportunity for 1 in 3 young people to participate in an Erasmus+ learning experience abroad would require a budget for the 2021-2027 period in the order of EUR 90 billion. The question is now if the EU will be ambitious enough to reach those numbers. 

Finally, the Erasmus+ evaluation was at the top of the agenda of the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council of 15 February, in which Ministers focused on measures to make the programme more inclusive, from a geographic, socio-economic and age-related point of view. They also discussed how the programme could contribute more effectively to strengthening Europe's capacity for innovation by attracting talent and creativity. The second part of the Council meeting was dedicated to the education aspects of the December European Council conclusions. The Council reflected on how work should be developed to deliver on initiatives such as "European Universities", learning of languages, mutual recognition of diplomas and a "European student card". Commissioner for Education Tibor Navracsis stressed the importance not to waste this momentum, because scaling up quality of European education means scaling up the competitiveness of the EU future economy as a whole. 
Link to the Report of the Commission Erasmus+ midterm evaluation