National Agencies call for a decentralized management structure and proportionality in simplification to achieve a more inclusive Erasmus Programme.

The Directors of the National Agencies Erasmus+ from the Netherlands, Poland, Austria, Slovenia and Germany (NA higher education) discussed with staff from the European Parliament and the Permanent Representations of EU member states the Commission’s proposal for the new programme generation.

Inclusion is one of the key words in the Commission’s proposal. But according to National Agencies, which implement the current Erasmus+ programme, more clarity is required by what we mean by inclusion. “We would like to enable those who want to be mobile, to become mobile - but also to motivate those who are not mobile, to become mobile”, was explained by the Directors in a DAAD-organised lunchtime meeting in Brussels. National Agencies expect to see the need to invest more time and energy in reaching out to new beneficiaries, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, and in providing proper support and guidance during the project life cycle. Inclusion will not come at “no-cost” – but NAs stand ready to work on this with support from the European Commission.

Furthermore, NAs remind that a decentralized management structure is a prerequisite for achieving a more inclusive programme; it allows to be close to beneficiaries and attract newcomers. However, particularly new and smaller organisations will require a simplification of programme rules. NAs call for a “proportionality in simplification” – heavier procedures for bigger projects, lighter procedures for small projects.

The discussion was based on a joint reflection paper by all NA Directors for Education and Training. The paper also highlights the importance of a predictable programme budget, which develops gradually over the programme period. Based on the current proposal that foresees the largest increase at the end of the 7-year programme period, NAs fear a lack of budget increase from 2020 to 2021 that may discourage applicants.

The discussion on Erasmus 2021-2027 came timely, as Parliament and Council currently prepare their position in response to the Commission’s proposal. The National Agencies are available to feed the process with insights, based on their experience with the implementation of the current Erasmus+ programme and its predecessors.