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Insufficient financial resources for the EU budget have put the Erasmus programme on red alert, with the risk of this flagship student initiative closing down.
The Erasmus programme is the biggest student exchange in the world. However, the historical programme is in serious danger of disappearing due to ‘insufficient resources for the European Union budget’, Alain Lamassoure, chairman of the European Parliament’s budget committee warned.
A press release published due to the outpouring of discussion, after the announcement revealed that the problems stemmed from the final budget for 2012, agreed upon by Member States and the European Parliament for €129.1 billion. However, this budget also had to cover €5 billion in unpaid bills from the previous working year, which coincidently was also underfunded.
According to the European Parliament the vote in the budget committee is part of an ongoing, difficult negotiation between Parliament, Commission and Council for the 2013 budget, just as the gap in 2012 financing is becoming more obvious.
In a EU statement Mr Alain Lamassoure stated that,
»We absolutely need to get the appropriate level for the credit obligations in order to follow up on these programmes that are at risk«.
The budget pot will not be empty in 2012 according to the European Commission. However, there may be a problem for those going abroad in a second semester between October 2012 and February 2013, this will only pose a problem if the current situation with the budget deficit persists.
The EU also revealed what the repercussions might be if the Member States and the European Parliament fail to remedy the problem by giving additional payments into the budget. The press release states (in such a scenario) it expects that the first areas to be hit will be cooperation projects involving schools, adults and vocational training, while it will not be possible to pay Erasmus students and Leonardo Da Vinci apprentices the level of grants they expected.
The situation will initially improve in 2013 when funding from the new yearly budget is available. The Commission will release payments, of which roughly €490 million would be spent on Erasmus grants for students and staff on exchanges. But because this budget will be partially used to cover the 2012 negative balance (at least €180 million), it will probably already have been totally used by mid-2013, and thus, even bigger problems are to be expected after that.
Read the press release in full, along with detailed statistics here.
The initial warnings were met with outrage by supporters, internationally, of the Erasmus programme calling for swift action to save the initiative for future students and generations.
Various petitions have been created online with tens of thousands of signatures already recorded; the number is not expected to drop unless the Member States and E.P. can radically change their initial forecasts. There have been recordings of protests, most recently in Paris, with lobbying of government officials of certain Member States apparently key to influencing future decision making.
The University Post will continue to monitor any further developments.
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