What the European Council agreement means for EU education, youth and culture programmes
On 8 February, the heads of state and government of all the EU member states (European Council) reached an agreement on the EU's long-term budget. The agreement means that the overall EU budget, for the first time ever, will decrease. However, the member states recognised the importance of education, training, research and innovation for jobs and growth and the allocation for this area is proposed to increase by about 40% compared to the current levels. The suggested allocation for the "Creative Europe programme" supporting cultural and creative industries – a high contributor to jobs and growth in Europe – would mean an increase of about 12%.
The budget increase proposed by the member states is significantly lower than the increase put forward initially by the Commission. For example, for its proposed new programme for education, training, youth and sport, Erasmus for All, the Commission had suggested an increase that would allow nearly 5 million people to benefit from EU funding to study, train or learn abroad. This number would now decrease to nearly 4 million people.
While the agreement between member states is an important step towards a final budget decision it is by no means the last step. The new budget proposal will now be discussed in the European Parliament before it is put to a final vote in a few months' time. In the meantime, the Commission will take into account this new budget allocation proposal and come up with suggestions how the available funds could be concretely divided among the funding programmes.