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Commission welcomes political agreement on Erasmus+

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The Commission has welcomed the political agreement reached between the European Parliament and EU member states on the new Erasmus+ Programme (2021‑2027). Trilogue negotiations have now concluded, pending the final approval of the legal texts by the European Parliament and the Council. Promoting our European Way of Life Vice President Margaritis Schinas said:  “Erasmus is Europe's most emblematic programme, the jewel in our crown. The Erasmus generations represent the essence of our European way of Life. Unity in diversity, solidarity, mobility, support for Europe as an area of peace, freedom and opportunities. With today's agreement, we are ready for the next and bigger Erasmus generations.”

Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: “I welcome the political agreement on the new Erasmus+ programme. Erasmus+ is one of our flagship programmes. Over the last three decades, participation in Erasmus+ has boosted the personal, social and professional development of over 10 million people, almost half of them between 2014 and 2020. With almost double the budget for the next programming period, we will now work to reach 10 million more over the next seven years.”

Erasmus+ is one of the most successful initiatives of the EU to date. Since its inception in 1987, the programme has expanded to cover all education and training sectors ranging from early childhood education and care, and school education, to vocational education and training, higher education and adult learning. It has benefitted more than 10 million people. With a dedicated budget of €24.5 billion in current prices and an additional top-up of €1.7bn in 2018 prices, the new programme will not only be more inclusive and innovative but also more digital and greener. You can find the press release here.

Brexit

Scottish government comment on efforts to stay in Erasmus

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Minsters have welcomed the support of around 150 MEPs who have asked the European Commission to explore how Scotland could continue to take part in the popular Erasmus exchange programme. The move comes a week after Further and Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead held productive talks with Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel to explore the idea. Until last year, over 2,000 Scottish students, staff and learners took part in the scheme annually, with Scotland attracting proportionally more Erasmus participants from across Europe - and sending more in the other direction - than any other country in the UK.

Lochhead said: “Losing Erasmus is huge blow for the thousands of Scottish students, community groups and adult learners - from all demographic backgrounds - who can no longer live, study or work in Europe.“It also closes the door for people to come to Scotland on Erasmus to experience our country and culture and it is heartening to see that loss of opportunity recognised by the 145 MEPs from across Europe who want Scotland’s place in Erasmus to continue. I am grateful to Terry Reintke and other MEPs for their efforts and thank them for extending the hand of friendship and solidarity to Scotland’s young people. I sincerely hope we can succeed.

“I have already had a virtual meeting with Commissioner Gabriel. We agreed that withdrawing from Erasmus is highly regrettable and we will continue to explore with the EU how to maximize Scotland’s continued engagement with the programme. I have also spoken with my Welsh Government counterpart and agreed to keep in close contact.”

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Digital economy

Commission sets up a Centre for digital preservation of cultural heritage and launches projects supporting digital innovation in schools

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On 4 January, the Commission launched a European competence centre aiming to preserve and conserve European Cultural Heritage. The centre, which will work for a period of three years, has been granted up to €3 million from the Horizon 2020 programme. It will set up a collaborative digital space for cultural heritage conservation and give access to repositories of data, metadata, standards and guidelines. Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare in Italy co-ordinates the team of 19 beneficiaries that are coming from 11 EU member states, Switzerland and Moldova.

The Commission has also launched two projects to support digital education, worth up to €1 million each, through Horizon 2020. The first project, MenSI, focuses on mentoring for school improvement and will run until February 2023. MenSI aims to mobilise 120 schools in six member states (Belgium, Czechia, Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Portugal) and the United Kingdom to advance digital innovation, in particular in small or rural schools and for socially disadvantaged students. The second project, iHub4Schools, will run until June 2023 and will accelerate digital innovation in schools thanks to the creation of regional innovation hubs and a mentoring model. 600 teachers in 75 schools will participate and the hubs will be established in 5 countries (Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, United Kingdom, Georgia). Italy and Norway will also benefit from the mentoring scheme. More information about the newly launched projects is available here.

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Adult learning

President von der Leyen opens 3rd European Education Summit

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Hosted by the European Commission, the 3rd European Education Summit took place on 10 December. European Commission PresidentUrsula von der Leyen, delivered the opening address paying tribute to teachers, who since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic have strived to keep classrooms open digitally giving pupils the opportunity to continue learning. This year's summit was dedicated to the ‘Digital Education Transformation'.

In her speech, President von der Leyen said that the pandemic “also exposed the shortcomings that need to be tackled. We have to successfully integrate digital technologies in our education systems. Digital technologies enable many pupils to continue learning. But for others it proved to be a major barrier when access, equipment, connectivity or skills are lacking.”

She made reference to the Digital Education Action Plan recently presented by the Commission, which seeks precisely to boost teachers' and pupils' digital skills, as well as to develop the related infrastructure. The president highlighted the ambitious but doable targets proposed for the European Education area and spoke about how NextGenerationEU can help the education sector.

Finally, she welcomed the new 'Education for Climate Coalition': “With this coalition we want to bring some of the energy from the streets to all our class rooms. We want to mobilise the entire education community to support the goals of climate neutrality and sustainable development.” Read the full speech online.

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