From Erasmus to Erasmus+: wrapping up the 30th anniversary celebrations in style
Expectations for the future run high, as reflected by the 30 proposals that make up the Erasmus+ Generation Declaration, presented together with the Annual Report at the closing event of the Erasmus+ 30th anniversary campaign on 30 November in Brussels – the icing on the cake of a celebratory campaign that saw more than 750,000 people take part in over 1,900 events across 44 countries.
Hundreds of people flocked down rue Ravenstein on 30 November. BOZAR, Brussel's Centre for Fine Arts, was hosting a special event: the gala ceremony to wrap up the Erasmus+ 30th anniversary campaign. The closing event had started earlier that Thursday with a press conference at the European Commission where Tibor Navracsics, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, presented the main figures of the Erasmus+ Annual Report 2016. With a budget increase of 7.5% compared to the previous year, the Erasmus+ programme supported 21,000 projects during 2016, 15% more than in 2015. The report highlights that since 2014 more than 2 million participants have benefited from Erasmus+ mobility opportunities to study, train, teach, work or volunteer abroad. These figures put the programme closer to meeting its target of supporting 3.7% of young people in the EU by 2020. During 2016, the programme strongly contributed to tackling societal challenges by supporting 1,200 cooperation projects focusing on tolerance, non-discrimination and social inclusion, as well as by investing €13 million in 35 additional projects aiming at preventing violent radicalisation and fostering the inclusion of people from migrant backgrounds and disadvantaged learners.
Erasmus+ Generation Declaratiom
After looking to the achievements of the last years, the press conference turned towards the future. Two representatives of the Erasmus+ Generation presented the Erasmus+ Generation Declaration – a set of 30 concrete proposals summarising the Generation's vision on the future of Erasmus+ beyond 2020 in six key areas: societal challenges, skills gap, civic engagement, inclusion, global dimension and simplification. Shortly afterwards, Commissioner Navracsics, together with Vice-President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen, sealed the Erasmus+ Time Capsule. To be hosted by the House of European History, the capsule will be opened in 10-years' time. It shelters material from the 30th anniversary celebrations along with posters, videos, and testimonies of the impact of Erasmus+ over the past 30 years, as well as visitors' postcards with diverse ideas on the future of both Erasmus+ and Europe.
In the afternoon, attendees moved to the European Parliament for a high-level panel on the future of Erasmus+. With the Erasmus+ Generation Declaration as a background, European Union decision makers and representatives of the Erasmus+ generation engaged in fruitful discussions that led to a clear consensus amongst the different voices: to have a larger, more ambitious and inclusive programme that benefits more Europeans, a bigger budget is needed and will be pushed for. The debate was followed by the opening of the Erasmus+ exhibition at the heart of the European Parliament, featuring the story and achievements of the programme over the last 30 years.
Past, present and future
To wrap up the anniversary campaign, close to 2,000 people gathered in the evening at the iconic Henry Le Boeuf hall at BOZAR to witness 30 years of mobility under Erasmus+ be told by former participants themselves in the form of compelling TED-like talks. Anniversaries provide the perfect opportunity to learn from the past, celebrate the present and look forward to the future. There is no dobut that the stories that have been knit together over the past 30 years under Erasmus+ have shaped the European landscape in multiple ways. We certainly look forward to the many more to come!
Read more about what has been achieved in the last three decades under Erasmus+, the Erasmus+ 30th anniversary campaign and the Erasmus+ Generation's vision on the future of the programme in the Erasmus+ 30 years book.
Photo: ©European Commission