On 14 December, the European Commission organised a closing event to conclude its celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Erasmus+ programme. The event took place in Brussels, bringing together a broad audience to celebrate the milestone moment of one of the EU’s flagship programmes.
As recalled by European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas in his introductory remarks, Erasmus+ has by far been the most successful EU programme, shaping the lives of many people as well as being ‘the most tangible expression of the European way of life, which is essentially how we live together, united in diversity’. Vice-President Schinas went on to draw attention to the big, unprecedented increase in the Erasmus+ budget for the years 2021-2027, which clearly shows the commitment of EU leaders to a Programme which has a clear and recognized EU added value.
European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel went back to the the origins of the Erasmus+ programme, in her remarks, which back in 1987 offered exchanges to over 3.000 universities. 35 years later, Erasmus+ has provided more that 13 million people with the opportunity to study, train and work abroad, offering mobility and cooperation opportunities, including in the areas of vocational education and training, school education, adult education, youth and sport. As Erasmus+ has adapted over the years, the scope of the Programme has continued to broaden: the vision is to reach the ambitious objective of having a Programme for all. Commissioner Gabriel emphasized how Inclusion and Diversity are among the main priorities of the new Erasmus+ Call: put simply, this means expanding the reach of the Programme to people with fewer opportunities.
Later in the morning, Romain Fermon, the International School Sport Federation’s Director of Marketing and Communications, talked about the Erasmus+ sport actions, highlighting how they are a tangible recognition of sport as an element that plays a key role in contributing to a better and more just society. Indeed, Erasmus+ sport actions address essential topics such as gender equality, inclusion, employability, volunteering, opportunities for refugees, and many more.
Floor Van Houdt, Head of the Sport Unit at the European Commission, addressed the Erasmus+ sport actions in more depth during the afternoon session. Ms. Van Houdt, together with her team, presented the main Erasmus + initiatives and opportunities in the field of sport: from the European Week of Sport to the Healthy lifestyle for all initiative, the new mobility opportunity for coaches and the She Runs – Active Girls’ Lead project. The session was a unique opportunity for all relevant stakeholders, who were given significant space for questions and networking.
With this event, the Commission wanted to celebrate together with European citizens, the success of the Erasmus+ Programme, to highlight its important role in supporting European democracy and values, and its vision to be even more ambitious in reaching as many people as possible. After all, as Commissioner Mariya Gabriel pointed out: ‘When we talk about EU values, Erasmus+ is the driving force’.