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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.