EEA EFTA States comment on education and research proposals

Published 22-02-2012
The EEA EFTA States have published two comments on the European Commission’s proposals for the education and research programmes Erasmus for All and Horizon 2020. The EEA EFTA States welcome the overall aim of the proposals but also make several suggestions for improvements.

The Horizon 2020 is the EU’s financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, one of the flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 Strategy aimed at securing Europe’s competitiveness on a global scale. The EEA EFTA States welcome the proposal for Horizon 2020 and are following the process of its establishment closely. However, they are concerned that the Commission’s proposal does not stress the importance of making a clear reference to the EEA Agreement in the text of the Regulation. Discrepancies might lead to legal uncertainty or differences in interpretation. The EEA EFTA States therefore suggest that the proposal should refer clearly to the EEA Agreement.

The Erasmus for All is a new programme for education, training, youth and sport that would be launched in 2014 as proposed by the European Commission. The new programme is meant to simplify the application process for grants and reduce duplication and fragmentation. It would bring together the existing Lifelong Learning Programme (Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius and Grundtvig), Youth in Action and five international cooperation programmes. New measures include the Erasmus Masters degree student loan guarantee scheme.

The EEA EFTA States express their interest in continuing their participation in future programmes. They believe it’s important to retain the established brand names used in the Lifelong Learning and Youth in Action. They strongly recommend using a broader and more explicit description of the content of the education and youth elements in the legal texts. The EEA EFTA States would also like to see more concrete proposals for simplifying the administrative process in order to make it more user-friendly.

The EEA EFTA States support the increased focus on young people and their mobility in European policies and programmes. The new programme should maintain the positive impact that Youth in Action has had on young people. The EEA EFTA States also welcome the focus on the importance of collaboration between education and business through strategic partnerships. However, the EEA EFTA States would like to point out the vital importance of action at other education levels, for example in order to tackle early school drop-out. More emphasis and visibility also needs to be given to the adult learning and informal learning parts of the programme.

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