youth rights – AEGEE-Europe | European Students' Forum AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe / European Students’ Forum) is a student organisation that promotes cooperation, communication and integration amongst young people in Europe. As a non-governmental, politically independent, and non-profit organisation AEGEE is open to students and young people from all faculties and disciplines – today it counts 13 000 members, active in close to 200 university cities in 40 European countries, making it the biggest interdisciplinary student association in Europe. Thu, 14 Dec 2017 21:23:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.12 Reaction to the draft law of Spanish Government shutting down the Spanish Youth Council /reaction-to-the-draft-law-of-spanish-government-shutting-down-the-spanish-youth-council/ /reaction-to-the-draft-law-of-spanish-government-shutting-down-the-spanish-youth-council/#comments Fri, 31 Jan 2014 17:28:17 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=917 On 17th January 2014, the Spanish Council of Ministers approved the draft law of Reform of the Public Administration that, based on an alleged duplicity of functions with the governmental body Spanish Youth Institute (INJUVE), formally abolishes the Spanish Youth Council (Consejo de la Juventud de España – CJE), turning a blind eye to the recommendations of Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, encouraging for the reconsideration of this measure.

AEGEE, as a youth organization striving for the participation of young people in decision-making processes, is strongly disappointed to see such a decision taken from the Spanish government, and calls for the Spanish Parliament to amend the Draft Law of Reform of the Public Administration and preserve the Spanish Youth Council. AEGEE, whose representatives in Spain are members of the Spanish Youth Council, is concerned by the lack of vision from the Spanish Government, which ignores the mandate of the Spanish Constitution (see art. 48) and eliminates the organ that has the representation of Spanish youth to defend their interests.

CJE is an organism founded in 1984, and nowadays gathers 76 diverse national organizations. It voices the interests of the young people on topics that are crucial for them, such as employment, sexual health or education. Shutting it down would worsen the situation of a collective that is already suffering the hard consequences of the international economic crisis. Therefore, AEGEE believes that this measure is a wrong approach to solving their issues problems, because it causes a lack of representation.

The same 17th of January, the Spanish Youth Council published a press release regarding the approval of the draft law showing their disagreement. In this document they highlight that “Spanish Government commits a big mistake that would let the Spanish youth without a valid representation” mentioning that this decision is not taken from the alleged “administrative efficiency criteria”, but with the objective of eliminating an “inconvenient organism”.

The European Youth Forum also reacted against this announcement calling “on the Spanish government to recognise young people, through their representation by youth organisations such as the CJE, as critical components of a healthy democracy”. They base their argumentation, as Martin Schulz also did, upon the European Union’s White Paper on Youth, emphasizing the importance of democratic platforms such as Spanish Youth Council in promoting youth participation through independent institutions.

Written by Pablo Hernández, Policy Officer of AEGEE-Europe for Youth Participation

]]>
/reaction-to-the-draft-law-of-spanish-government-shutting-down-the-spanish-youth-council/feed/ 1
Common parliament, different rules /common-european-parliament-different-rules/ /common-european-parliament-different-rules/#comments Thu, 30 Jan 2014 14:49:41 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=905 In the light of the forthcoming elections to the European Parliament, AEGEE organises different local and European level activities within the Y Vote 2014 Project to raise awareness of the elections and to increase young voters’ turnout.  As a result of various discussions, opinion exchanges and comparisons, several concerns about eligibility for participation in the European elections in each Member State have been identified. Namely, the rules that determine requirements for minimum age to be allowed to vote and to stand as a candidate differ from country to country. Should these inconsistencies exist is a controversial question.

Since the requirements for participation in the elections are established by national law, there are substantial disparities among the Member States. Firstly, the age necessary to be eligible to vote for the EP is 18 in all Member States, with an exception of Austria, where since 2009 16-year-olds are allowed to vote. This means that Austrian youth has greater potential to influence the composition of the EP in comparison with the rest of young people aged 16-17. Moreover, their interests and demands are presumably louder, more visible and taken into account at least in the pre-election stage. This creates inequality among European youth from different EU countries that is not justified, and therefore poses questions about the consequences this situation may cause.

Secondly, there are considerable age differences for candidates to be eligible to stand in the European elections. For example, in the situation when it is theoretically possible to find Danish MEP aged 18, Italians are obliged to wait seven more years to exercise the same right because in Italy the minimum age to be allowed to stand as a candidate in the EP elections is 25. This is worrying because even though MEPs are elected and gain the mandate in the Member State where they candidate, they form single legislative body that represents all EU citizens. Thus, a 18-years-old parliamentarian from Denmark votes upon the laws and rules that are binding in Italy, while an 18-years-old Italian can not. It does not seem fair, nevertheless the current electoral provisions draw exactly such picture.

Here you can see infographics from the website Europe Decides which shows clearly the complexity of the situation and the inequalities existing among countries (click on the image to enlarge):

For the Member States, it is obvious and technically easier to adjust the rules regarding the minimum age to vote and stand for the European elections with the rules that regulate national, regional and/or local elections. But in AEGEE we believe that more equality, consistency and uniformity is required within the Union, therefore we would appreciate if both parties, Members States and EU institutions, take necessary steps in this direction. Accordingly, AEGEE is committed to further be involved in addressing this issue and give recommendations that conform to our vision.

Importantly, this opinion does not touch other requirements for voters and candidates in each Member State and factors such as access to civic education, the level of youth involvement, and the interest in democratic processes, politics and other aspects, that may explain the existing differences in the national rules; however there are strong grounds to raise this discussion in order to make the EU more united.

Written by Diana Ondža, Communications Manager of the AEGEE-Europe Y Vote 2014 Project

 

]]>
/common-european-parliament-different-rules/feed/ 1
Deportation of a French student in Turkey as a consequence of the #Gezi protests /deportation-elise-couvert-turkey-gezi/ Wed, 03 Jul 2013 14:53:38 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=658 Turkey is not in the news anymore. The focus of the media shifted to more pressing events in other parts of the world, like Brazil (first because of the massive protests there, later because of a football championship). Even the new massive protests in Egypt are not on the first page of the newspapers anymore; after one month of people in the street, tear gas and messages against their government, attention is focused now in where in the world is hidden Mr. Snowden.

However, in Turkey normality has not come back. There are still groups of citizens which non-violent protest on the streets, while most of the people recover from their injuries at home. Citizens try to forget the nightmares of running in front of the police or being detained, and some live with fear that their government may find that they were active on the protests in Facebook or twitter, and will go after them. Something has however changed among the Turkish youth, and as one of them voiced out, the difference is that now they “hope that things will change”.

There is one face of the conflict that has not received enough attention. Let me tell you the case of Elisa Couvert: a French student who, after being Erasmus in Istanbul last year, decided to stay and study a postgraduate course there. She also was volunteering for the Human Rights Association. When the protests started, she joined the crowd claiming for more freedom and more democracy in the country where she had decided to spend several years of her life. She ended up searching refuge from tear gas in the office of a political party, where police entered and detained several people. She was kept in detention for too long without any charge, and finally freed just to see, some days later, how her residence permit had been revoked. She was therefore deported last week back to France.

News report that during the whole process, she was denied the right to information, the right for an interpreter, she was kept way too long in detention without charges… Not to mention that the conditions of the detention center were quite poor and she was treated with little respect. This happened to a foreigner, to a citizen of the European Union, therefore we can assume that their own citizens have suffered the same fate, or even worse. Special concern has been raised among Human Rights NGOs for the treatment of the minorities which were so active in the Turkish protests.

It is sad that Turkey has decided to deport a Human Rights activist, but this can be seen as part of the whole strategy of blaming external agents for the protests. Instead of reflecting on the real causes of the discontent, the government of RT Erdogan tried to find a scapegoat abroad. The crisis management of the protests by the authorities, instead of calming down the situation, dragged more and more people to the streets with inflammatory messages and outrageous treatment in the mass media. People answered with humour and turned then to Social Media for getting the information, which caused Twitter to be accused of being “the worst menace for society”.

National TV showed penguin documentaries instead of protest news

The case of Elise Couvert has had almost no impact on European news. This lack of attention in media and the lack of reaction of the French Government (and the European institutions) to this violation of the rights of one of its citizens is very worrying. The Turkish government has failed to provide a justification to the deportation, there was no solid evidence against Elisa Couvert, but she has seen herself expelled from Turkey in another authoritarian decision of the Turkish government. AEGEE-Europe calls for a reaction on this matter, we want the European Union to stand with this girl who just wanted to pursue her studies in a more democratic Turkey.

]]>
Dear Ministers… NOW! /youth-rights-campaign-aegee-europe/ Mon, 06 May 2013 11:41:28 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=607 In September 2012, Ministers responsible for Youth from 47 Member States of the Council of Europe congregated for the Ministerial Conference in Saint Petersburg, Russia, to agree on ensuring equal access to Youth Rights for every single young person in Europe. The aim was to achieve this through the adoption of the Declaration “Young people’s access to rights: Development of innovative youth policies in Europe” which would have served as a guideline to all the Ministers’ work in their respective countries. Some officials, however, had problems with ensuring access to Youth Rights for ALL young people inclusively. Ministers failed to agree on the issue that there should be no discrimination towards people of sexual orientation different from heterosexual, and with recognising other gender identities different from man or woman. In AEGEE we find it truly alarming that this vision came from some Member States of the Council of Europe – the European institution which core values are to uphold Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law. Yet, we very much appreciate the fact that several bodies within the Council of Europe indeed did make sure that a proper follow up to the Ministers’ fiasco at the Ministerial Conference will take place.

This year, in April, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted two important documents: “Young people’s access to fundamental rights” and “Young Europeans: an urgent educational challenge”. Moreover, one of the recommendations coming to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe was to adopt a legally binding document on Youth Rights, a policy document that will recognise and respect Youth Rights in their uniqueness, that European governments can then decide to implement in their countries.

This is where young people are stepping in. Several organisations came together to develop a Youth Rights campaign with three main aims: (1) to raise awareness on the situation of Youth Rights, (2) to make the topic of Youth Rights a priority on political agendas and (3) to strengthen the voice of young people in the Council of Europe Member States and structures.

The organisations starting the campaign:

· European Students’ Forum (AEGEE-Europe)

· Young European Federalists (JEF)

· International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student organisation (IGLYO)

· European Federation for Intercultural Learning (EFIL)

· Youth for Exchange and Understanding (YEU)

· World Esperanto Youth Organisation (TEJO)

· National Youth Council of Portugal (CNJ)

· Flemish National Youth Council (VJR)

· Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU)

Together with a legal advisor – the European Law Student Association (ELSA), and a local youth organisation from Kosovo – MUSE-E. And with the support from the Advisory Council on Youth and the European Youth Forum and with many more organisations to join.

The campaign comes at a very important moment in Europe. Today, Europe is a continent where national governments do not always value the voice of young people in decision making processes. It is a continent where governments are continuously making financial cuts influencing young people’s welfare drastically in a very negative way. It is a place where youth organisations are not recognised and are often not given proper support. As the Ministerial Conference showed, it is also a place where young people cannot be guaranteed safety and inclusion.

This is why we are calling for action through a campaign called “Youth Rights. NOW!”: a campaign that aims to mobilise young people to fight for our rights and influence decision makers to put this matter high on their agendas. From 25th to 28th April, the campaign took the first steps, but it will take time to implement all the steps planned, gain finances and provide other prerequisites to set up the campaign.

Nonetheless, the Comité Directeur of AEGEE-Europe will mobilise its members to initiate a dialogue with national decision makers and to start a process of recognition and respect of our Youth Rights! We call also for other youth organisations to join the campaign and to mobilise their members. Finally, we call on policy makers – Youth and Education Ministers, Foreign Affairs Ministers (members of the Committee of Ministers of CoE) and Ambassadors accredited to the Council of Europe, each in their own capacity – to team up with young people and use our ideas and their power to make Europe youth-friendly, NOW!

]]>
Time is Money: volunteers’ time is given a value! /volunteers-time-given-value-money/ Sat, 09 Mar 2013 09:17:29 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=501 We all knew it, volunteers’ time is of great value. The time we dedicate to our projects and initiatives contributes to the development of Europe, both socially and economically. It also contributes to increase social capital or, in other words, it develops further cooperation among individuals and groups in the community. Moreover, a research carried out by the John Hopkins University measured it and announced that volunteers can contribute up to 5% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

The new regulation on ‘financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union’ has finally admitted this officially. It includes the possibility of giving economic value to the work of volunteers and including it as co-funding for a grant application under 60.000€. This means volunteers’ time can be given the value it deserves and be included in grant applications to European Institutions.

At AEGEE-Europe we very much welcome this change that will enable youth organizations to actually measure the contribution of its volunteers, therefore obtaining further support in their projects. We also consider this decision a significant step forward, in order to reach the goal of give the right value to voluntary activities. However, we are still far from the objective and we encourage European institutions and the Members’ States to proceed with next steps which will go toward a full appreciation of volunteer work, such as the recognition of the skills and competences which are acquired during the volunteer activities.

Written by Felipe González Santos
Policy Officer on Youth Participation of AEGEE-Europe

]]>
League of Young Voters: mobilising people across Europe /lyv-league-young-voters-elections-european-parliament-201/ Fri, 08 Mar 2013 12:05:03 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=492 During February, the European Youth Forum held a Capacity Building event where 38 people from all over Europe, including representatives of 23 National Youth Councils, discussed the project League of Young Voters. The aim of the LYV is to mobilise young people, understood as between 15-35 years old, for European Parliament elections in 2014. The focus will be on the issues concerning young people and the inclusion of those into the political agenda. Without a partisan bias, LYV seeks for reflecting the position of the political families in those issues, and debates are foreseen to be developed.

On the first day of the event, the participants had the opportunity of learning about several aspects of the League of Young Voters Initiative, as for example the logo, and they visited the European Parliament for holding a meeting there with representatives of different political groups (EPP, PES, ALDE and Greens) in order to discuss the role of young people in the upcoming European elections 2014.

The second day was devoted to presentation and discussions on different topics related with the project, such as electoral campaigns, communications and multimedia and funding and financing. A milestone of that event was the presentation of Youth in Action call for the European Elections 2014 by Pascal Lejeune from DG EAC. This presentation was specially interesting because it showed the guidelines that organizations willing to apply have to follow in order to get their actions more successfully funded. Surprisingly, the open call has not been announced yet.

The last day was dedicated to the individual group and putting in common different ideas, and furthermore the development of future synergies that will contribute to strength the projects and to make them more complete.

To sum up, the event was an excellent opportunity to get to know people that are really attached with young issues and with close relations with National Youth Councils with whom the collaboration for future projects could become a valuable asset for AEGEE.

Written by Javier Mendoza, AEGEE-Tenerife

 

]]>
Erasmus: You cannot vote! /erasmus-you-cannot-vote-elections-italy/ /erasmus-you-cannot-vote-elections-italy/#comments Tue, 22 Jan 2013 10:50:58 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=374 More than 40.000 Italian young people studying and living abroad are excluded from the national elections.

AEGEE-Europe supports the claim of Italian students and calls for a solution that solves the violation of the democratic rights of thousand of young citizens. We expect the decision of the Italian Council of Ministers to allow all Italians living abroad the possibility to participate in the general elections. We are proud to see that the reaction of Italian Erasmus has been decisive to allow other Italians to exert their democratic rights.

Unless exceptional measures are taken, Italian Erasmus students, and all the young Italians involved in the Lifelong Learning Programme abroad such as the Leonardo interns, are going to be excluded from the elections to the Parliament that will take place on February 24-25th 2013. They cannot vote for correspondence in the Consulate because, according to the current law, in order to exercise their electoral rights abroad, Italian citizens must register at the Registry of the Italians abroad (AIRE) at the Consulate in the country where they have resided or are going to reside for at least 12 months. A period that does not apply for the most popular mobility programmes.

Showing once more how wrong is the common belief that the young generation does not care about anything except themselves, the Italian Erasmus have taken initiative and started claiming for their rights showing their indignation on facebook and social media. They have coordinated themselves even when being scattered all over Europe and they have gotten quite a lot of attention on the media, voicing their discontent and calling for a reasonable decision to be taken. A petition online has been launched, and the Leonardo interns and other Italians living abroad are signing up hoping to be included together with the Erasmus students in case a solution is reached.

All the frustration of these young people has been represented graphically in a very eloquent image: a piece of toilet paper where is written: here you are, this is what my vote is worth! One of the students wrote on  facebook:  “I am really astonished because democracy and active citizenship are among the specific objectives of Lifelong Learning Programme! So there is some contradiction on this situation”. Limiting the right to vote to those who can afford the money and time of a flight back home seems quite an unfair situation that needs to be solved. Erasmus students are supported in their request by UDU, the Italian Syndicate of Students.

Even the European Commission backs the students’ claim, which makes sense since they designated 2013 as the European Year of Citizens. According to a communication from the cabinet of the Commissioner on Education, Androula Vassiliou, “the EU supports the efforts of Italy for assuring that students within mobility programmes like Erasmus are not discriminated in their right to vote”, even though legislation regarding elections is part of the national competences.

Monti’s government has decided to do all that is in their hands to solve this problem. Today (Jan 22nd) the Italian Consiglio dei Ministri will meet and the topic is high on the agenda, with the Minister of Education pushing for a solution. Time is short, as elections are very close. When at the end of last year the government promulgated a law to allow researchers, military and professors abroad to vote in this elections, nobody thought of the students participating in mobility programmes. Now a special measure will have to be taken, and time is running out as the deadline for confirming the voting abroad expired last Sunday Jan 20th. According to the Italian Constitution, the measure will have to grant the right to vote to other Italians abroad in similar situation. As a back up plan, the possible reimbursement of the travel costs for the voting is not totally discarded yet.

As stated before, AEGEE-Europe supports the claim of Italian students and calls for a solution that solves the violation of the democratic rights of thousand of young citizens. We expect the decision of the Italian Council of Ministers to allow all Italians living abroad the possibility to participate in the elections for the Italian Parliament. We are proud to see that the reaction of Italian Erasmus has been decisive to allow other Italians to exert their democratic rights.

Related links:

]]>
/erasmus-you-cannot-vote-elections-italy/feed/ 1
The Youth Guarantee momentum /youth-guarantee-momentum-jobs-europe-ep/ Fri, 18 Jan 2013 11:18:34 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=358 AEGEE-Europe is pleased to hear that the European Parliament voted yesterday a resolution which should encourage the Members States to implement the Youth Guarantee in their country. More exactly, the Resolution calls on Member States to introduce their own youth guarantee scheme and advocates for 25% of the European Social Fund to be used to finance the mechanism.

This resolution synergies the efforts of the European Commission to tackle the thorny issue of youth unemployment, which has raised to 25 millions of youth unemployed in Europe. AEGEE-Europe hopes Member States’ ministers for employment and social affairs will reach an agreement during the  Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) Council in February 2013 and issue a recommendation to convince the Member States that the Youth Guarantee scheme should be adopted all over the EU as one of the main tools to fight Youth Unemployment. AEGEE-Europe urges Members States to use the tools which are put at their disposal by the European Union, and to become proactive in dealing with the unemployment of young people and implement the Youth Guarantee in the short term, without dropping any other national initiatives that may have been put in place.

MEP Pervenche Berès mentioned at the introduction of the EP Resolution that Youth is not an homogenous group; therefore a needs analysis will have to be conducted in order to be able to propose tailored and efficient solutions. AEGEE would like to improve the Youth Guarantee scheme, making it sure that it is extended beyond the age of 25, since the studying period nowadays can extend well beyond this age depending on the different paths offered to students. Limiting the youth guarantee to young people up to 25 years old would only partially address the problem.
We also want to raise our voice to communicate our concerns: special effort has to be taken to make sure that the companies join the Youth Guarantee scheme, because their collaboration is necessary to make it happen. A common dialogue has to be established among governments (national, regional and local), all sectors of economy and the young people, in order to develop the scheme, and to have it adapted to the reality of each country. The role of National Youth Councils (NYCs) and Youth organizations in the drafting, implementation and evaluation phases of the Youth Guarantee scheme is crucial to achieve the aimed objectives.
AEGEE calls finally for the inclusion of strict control mechanisms to prevent that this solution for Youth Unemployment is misused and perverted into a way to obtain cheap labour force through precarious job offers, unpaid internships or low quality education opportunities.

Written by the Comité Directeur of AEGEE-Europe

 

 

]]>
Welcoming the European Youth Guarantee /youth-guarantee-unemployment-solution/ Wed, 12 Dec 2012 07:35:02 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=311 One week ago, on Wednesday Dec 5th, the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Mr László Andor, presented a new package of measures against unemployment. The job market is severely affected by the crisis, and the situation gets worse every month. We stand now at alarmingly high youth unemployment rates in Europe: an average 23% in the European Union, and in some countries like Spain and Greece, over 50%. It is true that youth unemployment was an endemic problem in many regions in Europe but the situation is derailed now, and this has moved the European Commission (EC) to finally include in the proposed measures the idea that has been advocated for by the European Youth Forum and other youth NGOs in Brussels for more than a year: to adapt to the European scale, the youth guarantee scheme that has worked quite well in some countries like Austria, Finland, Denmark and Sweden.

But what is exactly the European Youth Guarantee? It is the compromise to offer to young Europeans under 25 a traineeship or an opportunity to continue in education, within four months after they get unemployed. This tackles specifically the problem of social exclusion that long term unemployment can bring to people. The aim is to reverse the current trend of rising numbers of NEETs (stands for Not in Education, Employment or Training). The low rates of unemployment in the countries that already have set up this scheme are promising.

However, we in AEGEE see that this scheme raises some concerns that have to be taken into account, as it came up during the online discussion that Commissioner Mr. Andor held with young citizens on Friday. For instance: how can the European Commission enforce such a measure when they have no decision power on education policies? One of the possibilities is through the budget control systems put in place recently, especially for countries which have received economical support from EU.

Talking about money, the big question will be where to get all that money from (estimated costs around 4.000 – 6.000 euros per person, depending on the country). Ideally the Member States would be funding the scheme, but the European Commission pointed at the European Social Fund as an opportunity to get support. This Fund contains 76.000 million Euros for the period 2007-13. As the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework is still not agreed upon, the final number for the next seven years is still on air, and we can just hope it is not reduced.

Another concern for AEGEE is the risk that these employments and internships will end up being a source of cheap labour force for companies, affecting salaries and having a backfire effect. The implementation of the Youth Guarantee will require a brave collaboration from companies, and it should be monitored to prevent the misuse of the scheme and the proliferation of unstable or low-waged jobs, unpaid traineeships, and other forms ways to undervalue the work of young people.

What we want the EU Member States to take into account: the cost of implementing the Youth Guarantee (estimated by the ILO – International Labour Organization – in 0.2% of European combined GDP) will be small compared with the costs of not tackling the problem once and for all. A recent study by the European Policy Centre estimated that achieving the EU’s 75% employment rate target by 2020 would generate up to €1.2 trillion in extra revenues for EU Member States (7% of GDP). We hope this are strong enough numbers to convince the European Council to adopt the EC Recommendation as soon as possible. Ideally it should be approved in the Council of Feb 28th, 2013 and should start to work in 2014. And it is already late.

There were other measures included in the package presented by the European Commission, like advances in the Quality Assurance for Internships, or the setting up of a European Alliance for Apprenticeships. But none of them can compare with the potential impact of the Youth Guarantee. This is what the youth sector had been demanding: strong, brave decisions. Now AEGEE calls for the Member States to accept the challenge and approve in the Council its implementation.

Written by the Comité Directeur of AEGEE-Europe

]]>
The future of Erasmus at a stake? AEGEE will not let mobility programmes down! /futureoferasmus/ Mon, 08 Oct 2012 12:02:06 +0000 http://aegee.blogactiv.eu/?p=154 October started with a worrying statement from the Chair of the Committee on Budgets of the European Parliament, Mr. Alain Lamassoure: “We have not foreseen in the 2012 budget enough credit payments … so the cohesion funds are at risk, also the European Social Fund, the Erasmus and life-long learning programmes, and even the research and innovation programmes”. [1]

These words, coming from inside the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgets, shocked the European society, and especially the students. Surprisingly, what called the attention of the media was mostly the mentioning of the Erasmus Programme, making it seem like the lack of funding for cohesion funds, science or the European Social Fund are not equally important. Nevertheless, for AEGEE-Europe, the European Students’ Forum, the impact of a lack of funding for the Lifelong Learning Programmes would be significant. For this reason, AEGEE has been following the issue during the past days.

After the statement of Mr. Lamassoure, most of the Ministers of Education of the member states hurried to reassure students and their families that their grants are secured. While this may be true for the first semester of the 2012/2013 academic year, there are serious doubts for those students who will travel abroad during the second semester. On Friday, 5th October, the European Commission published an article on the topic in its news section about Education and Training. The title already caused more worries instead of calming down the situation: Erasmus students: don’t panic (yet)! The article clearly implied that the European Commission is still trying to convince the European Parliament and the member states to provide satisfactory funding for these programmes for the second semester of the academic year.

We understand that Mr. Lamassoure’s statement was made in a context of ongoing negotiations for the 2013 budget, as well as difficulties in fulfilling all the compromises with an estimated deficit of 10 billion Euros for 2012. However, we feel that this message casts doubts on the future of this project, when we should be celebrating the positive impact on society of 25 years of the Erasmus programme – one of the most successful initiatives of the European Union -, and finding ways to make it more inclusive to reach more students.

For thousands of students all over Europe, the possibility to become an Erasmus student is now. They have already arranged everything to study abroad this year, and they are ready for an experience that will enrich both their curriculum and their personality. Moreover, Erasmus is the best tool of the European Union to create a truly European Identity, which in the face of rising nationalism is more needed than ever. The uncertainty around the funding might cause some of these young Europeans to cancel their participation. Therefore, we demand that the European Commission and the bodies responsible for the funding issue a clear message confirming that the grants for the Erasmus Programme are guaranteed not only for the whole 2012/2013 academic year, but for the upcoming years as well. Any reduction in the funding will increase inequality among young people, and could make Erasmus a privilege of wealthy students instead of a right for everyone. Only adequate funding can develop the programme into a real Erasmus for All, which after all is the name of the Commission’s proposal for the years 2014-2020. AEGEE demands an increase in the number of mobility grants and an ambitious future funding for these programmes to make sure that every year students can reinforce their European identity by studying abroad.

[1]http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/content/20121004STO53016/html/Erasmus-and-investment-in-worst-hit-countries-at-risk-warns-Lamassoure1
]]>