During the next EU programming period (2021-2027), improving the synergies between the ESF (the future European Social Fund Plus) and the Erasmus programme has been identified as an important objective, in the context of improving synergies and complementarity across EU funds overall. However, much work remains to be done to spread awareness of the idea and knowledge on how to achieve it. In this context, the ESF Transnational Platform conducted a study into this topic, jointly developed by the Youth Employment and the Learning and Skills networks.
The paper looked into case studies from five Member States: Lithuania, Spain, Bulgaria, Poland, and Germany. Recommendations consisted of strengthening political support and commitment, providing additional technical support, and promoting a collaborative culture.
Obstacles to synergies
One of the most common obstacles to implementing synergies between ESF and Erasmus in the current programming period is the lack of contact between the authorities responsible for the two programmes.
Further obstacles consist of:
• Different implementation modalities
• Different institutional frameworks
• Lack of experience in combining the programmes As such, a common and important feature to all successful examples of synergies between ESF and Erasmus is existing cooperation arrangements between the relevant authorities. This naturally facilitates coordination and cooperation between the two programmes.
The paper produced concrete recommendations, divided into three major categories: Political support and commitment, efforts need to be made on both EU and national level:
• EU level, a high-level discussion forum should be established, to promote planning and collaboration
• The European Commission should further raise awareness and provide the how-to knowledge
• National level, national governments need to promote and aid cooperation
• A system of liaison officers between ESF and Erasmus should be created
• Creating EU level common guidelines
• Sharing best practices
• Identifying practical steps to reduce administrative burdens and obstacles
Building a collaborative culture:
• Organising common ESF-Erasmus events at EU and national level
• Identifying suitable areas of cooperation
• Making better use of the relevant participatory structures, to enhance communication and information sharing.
Taken together, these recommendations pave the way for improving synergies between ESF and Erasmus in the future, furthering the ambitions and results of both instruments.