Will the EP add more Erasmus-bureaucracy?

Nieuws | de redactie
4 oktober 2012 | ‘Erasmus for all’ was promised a budget increase of 19 billion euro. Whether this comes true, depends largely on the success of slashing the programme’s bureaucracy. Thus far, however, the European Parliament seems only to be adding bureaucracy.

The political culture in the CULTcommittee (Culture and Education committee) of theEuropean Parliament is rather peculiar. Discussions are tame, tosay the least. When debating the Commission proposal ‘Erasmus forall’ and the report of the EP(for which chairwoman Doris Pack israpporteur), you wouldn’t think it was about billions ofeuros.

MEP Morten Løkkegaard (formerly a well known television journalistin Denmark) is a rare exception in the CULT committee: he doescriticize when necessary. And he is critical on the lack of debateon ‘Erasmus for all’.

Would you say that the EP-report on ‘Erasmus for all’threatens to bring the programme back to squareone?  

“The starting point of the Erasmus for all-proposal is verypositive. It is the most popular EU-programme ever. Nobody isdebating the legitimacy of it; everybody wants to develop it, toenhance it. And really, who cares about the architecture if you arean end user, and who cares about the name of the programme. We canenter into a discussion about branding, and I know one or twothings about that, but in the end that should not be the core ofour debate.”

“My main point is that there is a close link between the proposedbudget increase and the measure of simplification we can attain.The less bureaucratic the programme becomes, the cheaper it is andthe more European added value we can deliver. In its originalproposal, the Commission really lived up to the idea ofsimplification. One can discuss whether the Pack-report is truesimplification.”

In the debate you said that the CULT-committee is infact adding an extra bureaucratic layer.

“The original proposal of the European Commissionhas 10 objectives; the report of Doris Pack has 49 differentobjectives. I am not an expert in the field, but I can see thatthis is not ‘simplification’. And what’s worse, the Member Statesdon’t consider it simplification either. I talked with 6 or 7Member State representatives and got the same messageeverywhere.”

“We could have used our time in Parliament to discuss real issues,the ways in which the Erasmus-programmes can help to counter theeconomic crisis, to tackle youth unemployment. I want to makethings move.”

But how exactly is the debate on the budget related tothis fight against bureaucracy in ‘Erasmus for all’?

“We need the simplification if we want the MemberStates to agree with the proposed budget increase of 19 billioneuro. If the European Parliament succeeds in this, the MemberStates will live up to the promise they made in Council this spring(laid down in a partial general approach). I have no doubt that if we take upthe responsibility of reform, we will see a huge rise in fundingfor Erasmus, with huge European added value. It can be a historicchange.”

The final vote in the European Parliament on Erasmus for all willtake place on November 6th.


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