25th Oct 2016


Emergency funds needed to save EU student exchange scheme

  • Deadlock over the 2013 EU budget could bring EU programmes to a halt (Photo: Lawrence OP)

The European Commission is to come with an emergency budget proposal in a bid to ensure that the Erasmus student programme and the European Social Fund can continue to meet payments for grants.

Spokesperson Patrizio Fiorilli said Wednesday (3 October) that the commission would table a supplementary amending budget (SAB) to "avoid the funds drying up."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The EU's flagship student exchange programme is among several EU projects facing bankruptcy.

According to Alain Lamassoure, chairman of the European Parliament's budget committee, it and the research and innovation programmes would face a cash flow crisis within weeks.

Meanwhile, the European Social Fund had been "insolvent since the beginning of the month and cannot make repayments to member states," the French deputy said Tuesday.

The popular Erasmus scheme, which funds exchange years for university students, has been used by over 2.2 million students since it was launched in 1987 and manages an annual budget worth €450 million.

However, Fiorilli played down fears that students would suffer from the cash-flow crisis, insisting that all payments to students for January-September had already been made and 70 percent of payments for September-December as well.

He refused to comment on Lamassoure's claim of a €10 billion hole in the EU's finances, instead accusing member states of failing to live up to their promise to implement a 'Growth and Jobs' pact at the June EU summit. "If you're not going to support an SAB then you're not supporting growth," he said.

A supplementary amending budget would still require the backing of government ministers and the European Parliament. Failure to reach agreement will mean that the 2012 budget will carry into next year on a month-by-month basis.

The revelations come as MEPs are expected to defy demands by member states to cut the EU budget for 2013.

The budget committee is set to back the Commission's budget programme worth €138 billion, a €9 billion increase on 2012, which included a package of €49 billion in structural funds and €9 billion earmarked for research and development.

Helga Trupel, the budget spokesperson for the Greens/EFA group, told EUobserver that the Council's plans risked "derailing crucial EU programmes, like Erasmus and European Social Fund programmes, which have already been committed to."

The cuts plans were "totally at odds with the commitment of EU member states to tackle youth unemployment and strengthen social cohesion," she added.

However, most EU governments want the EU budget rise to be limited to 2.79 percent, with Germany, France and the UK among seven countries demanding a budget freeze.

Janusz Lewandowski, EU budget commissioner, last week described member states' position as "an absolute contradiction", commenting that the EU would "not be able to have a suitable policy on employment and competitiveness without structural funds and rural development funds."

Attention will then shift to the Strasbourg plenary session in three weeks, where the Parliament will adopt its final position.

In cooperation with

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity