BRUSSELS – The European Commission presented on Friday 23 November a new draft proposal for the budget of the European Union in 2013, which ‘protects’ financial commitments for the Erasmus Mundus and Lifelong Learning Programmes. The European Students’ Union (ESU) requests that the European Parliament and the Council deal swiftly with the proposal so that any uncertainty concerning the funding for European education policies can be erased.
“Many student programs are affected by these negotiations and therefore it is vital to break the deadlock. I would like to remind the Member States that only one percent of the overall budget is invested in the Erasmus and Lifelong Learning Programme. It is important to protect the funds for education programmes as they result in much higher returns for the whole EU by improving the qualifications and experience of graduates,” says Karina Ufert, Chairperson of ESU.
Lower payments in 2013
In the new draft proposal the European Commission suggests allocating 1.258.876.000 euros in commitments to the Lifelong Learning and Erasmus Mundus Programmes. That is an increase of 0.9 percent compared to 2012 taking into account a proposal for an amended budget that year. However, the Commission estimates that the payments will be 1.5 percent lower than in 2012, amounting to 1.185.959.000 euros. The commitments will in other words be 11.6 million euros higher in 2013 compared to 2012 but the actual payments 18.6 million euros lower.
The Commission retains its draft amendment for the budget in 2012 where it calls for nine billion euros in additional payments for the European Union. Thereof, education policies would receive 180 million of which a half of the amount would flow into the Erasmus programme. If the negotiations will not reach a conclusion soon it might create financial insecurity for students in the second semester of Erasmus in the academic year 2012-2013. ESU is concerned that this doubt about the future will damage severely the interest of students that want to apply for studies abroad.
“It is very important that the commitments reflect the level of payments in the 2013 budget so that education programmes will not face the same uncertainty in 2013 as in 2012. ESU has suggested that underexploited funds could be used to support education policies. The new draft proposal shows that there might be some flexibility for that in the EU budget,” says Ufert.
Member States need to deliver
Negotiations on the budget for 2013 broke down between the European Parliament and the Council on 13 November. Therefore, the European Commission has presented a new draft for a budget that tries to bring together the opposing views of these main actors. The Commission has proposed that the budget commitments will in total be 151 billion euros in 2013, or 1.13 percent of the EU’s gross national income (GNI). However, it is still uncertain when the negotiations will finish, as the Member States have demanded deeper cuts to the EU funds in 2013.
“We request an immediate solution to the EU budget so that students can regain trust in the European education policy. The EU Member States need to put their money where their mouth is. This is extremely urgent since the negotiations are entering their final stage. Many students will suffer financially if the EU Member States do not stand up to their obligations concerning the budget. Such an uncertainty affects students when they are making a decision on if, what and where they should study in Europe,” Ufert comments.
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The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 38 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out or Facebook page or visit www.esu-online.org. ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.