On 19th to 21st October there were opportunities for EPA and all other civil society organisations to give input on European education and youth policies. The framework for this was offered through the annual Education, Training and Youth Forum (ETYF) organised by the European Commission and an Erasmus+ Conference hosted by the S&D Group of the European Parliament. The two events provided opportunities for sharing experiences and possible also to have an impact on future policy action by European institutions. In the period of the post-Paris agenda civil society seems to be an inevitable partner for the EU for various reasons.
At the ETYF the focus – according to the post-Paris agenda – was on active citizenship and inclusion. The Forum started with a video message of Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission. He repeated his well-known wish to create a Europe with a AAA social rating. This means that employability is still an important focus, but the above mentioned two topics have been elevated to the same level of importance.
It was emphasised that more cooperation is encouraged with civil society, especially on national level, for achieving the agenda. The main reason for this is that the areas covered fall under national competence, thus need lobby on national level. The flexibility of civil society was also mentioned as an important asset.
The Forum speakers highlighted two documents, the Joint Report on ET2020 and the recently published Youth Report 2015
At the Erasmus+ Conference was organised to precede the mid-term review of the Erasmus+ Programme of the EU. It was not only attended by the hosting MEPs, including the Chair of the CULT Committee of the EP, Silvia Costa, but also a number of MEPs from other EP parties. The EC was represented on very high level, by Martine Reicherts, the new Director General of DG EAC and at least a dozen responsible civil servants. Several national Erasmus+ Agencies were represented on high levels, too, among them former EPA Vice President Doreen Camilleri, now National Erasmus+ Coordinator, executive of the Maltese National Agency. The attendance was heavier than expected, so several people were sitting on the floor. It made participation somewhat more challenging as the event was held in 6 languages with interpretation (headphones provided per seat), but gave a great opportunity to polish your listening comprehension skills.
We had the opportunity to raise our main concerns participating in a number of Erasmus+ projects, namely that
- - parents are non-eligible for mobility grants in some countries – made possible by the lack of central directives on this
- - civil society cooperation grants replacing the operating grants require too much conformity with official EU policy issues and there is a need for financial support for stakeholder involvement without such obligations for real civil society participation
- - the staff-cost rates are disproportionate and unfair resulting in more experienced and more senior staff receiving 1/3 of the amount paid to a less experienced, more junior one, for the same work done, just because they live in different countries.
Detailed information on the ETYF can be found here.
The press release on the Erasmus+ conference can be found here.
 The post-Paris agenda refers to the agenda set in the Paris declaration on Promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education of Ministers of Education following the Charlie Hebdo attack on 7 January 2015, highlighting the importance of active