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Old wine in a new bottle: Erasmus+

Names always create a lot of emotions. The European Union´s new programme for education, training, youth and sport is no exception to the rule. From Education Europe to Erasmus for All to YES Europe, it seems the European Parliament and EU member states finally reached common ground, surprising a lot of people with their new proposal: Erasmus+. Erasmus+ is the EU’s new programme which brings together all EU and international schemes for education, training, youth and sports (i.e. the current Lifelong Learning programme (LLP) including Leonardo, Comenius, Grundtvig, Erasmus and Jean Monnet actions; the Youth in Action programme, as well as five other international programmes including Erasmus Mundus and Tempus) and is expected to benefit over four million people between 2014 and 2020. From a higher education perspective, it seems a good thing the name "Erasmus" remains, being one of the EU’s most well-known and popular initiatives. By adding a “+”, the new proposal enables to keep that brand name without limiting the new programme to higher education and student mobility, one of the main concerns on the side of the European Parliament. Nevertheless, sceptics unleash their imagination to their heart’s content, linking the “+” to Google+ or the need for a footnote due to the lack of clarity. Some go so far as to say it symbolizes the death of Creative Europe, and therefore the cross on the top of the grave. But whatever the issues about the new name, more important questions remain: Although the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) seems to have been finally agreed, the overall budget for the new programme remains unclear. The Commission’s original proposal was EUR 19 billion - 70 % more than the funding of the current LLP. However, the latest estimation for Erasmus+ is EUR 16 billion, nearly 16% less than originally envisioned. The Culture and Education committee is now expected to formally approve the outcome of the negotiations, before the final text can go to plenary – most likely in October.