Rebecca Taylor writes … the benefits of the Erasmus+ programme for young Brits

erasmusYesterday the European Union increased its commitment to providing learning and development opportunities for young people right here in Britain, through the launch of the revamped Erasmus+ programme.

The new revamped Erasmus+ programme has a total budget of £12 billion, with £100 million already earmarked for the UK in 2014 alone.  Along with my Liberal Democrat colleagues in Brussels we pushed for a bigger Erasmus budget than the previous scheme and were successful in obtaining a 40% increase at a time when the overall EU budget was cut. Grants will now be made available for education, training, youth and sport. In total it’s estimated that nearly a quarter of a million students, apprentices, teachers and youth workers will benefit from the EU grants. Studying abroad is great fun and is a unique opportunity to discover new places and people, but it’s also a chance to build the kind of skills which many employers value.  This can be anything from perfecting a second language, integrating into a brand new environment or learning how to work with people from across different countries.

Young people know only too well that the job market is extremely competitive, especially for that essential first job. That is why now more than ever young Brits need to make themselves stand out from the crowd, and taking part in Erasmus+ is a great way to do just that.

In the context of the wider debate on Europe that is taking place across the country, the launch of the new Erasmus + programme is again more evidence of what we risk losing at next month’s European elections. Those wanting to yank us out of Europe and pull up the drawbridge will conveniently dismiss this massive investment in our young people.

As well as repeating fabricated “facts” about the EU, UKIP try to dismiss the significant benefits of being part of the world’s biggest single market, not least in terms of the jobs and investment which young people need and want. That’s why the Liberal Democrats will be proudly championing the employment opportunities and economic growth that being in Europe delivers for us at the upcoming European elections.

Those fundamentally opposed to the EU say we should turn our backs on the world and become more inwardly focused. But Liberal Democrats understand that the best way to increase opportunities for young people is by having a strong voice in Brussels and working together with our European neighbours.

UKIP offer nothing to young people; leaving the EU would reduce job opportunities in the UK and take away their right to work, study or train freely in 27 other European countries, including through Erasmus+. But the paradox is, while opinion polls show that young Brits are overwhelmingly pro-European and in particular like the idea of being above to move around the EU freely, they are less likely to vote in the European elections than older sections of the population. So my message to young people is: don’t let UKIP or anyone else snatch these hard-fought opportunities from you and restrict your future, get out and vote Liberal Democrat on May 22nd.

* Rebecca Taylor is a member of Islington LibDems and the former MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber.

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  • “The new revamped Erasmus+ programme has a total budget of £12 billion, with £100 million already earmarked for the UK in 2014 alone.”
    So Rebecca, where did the EU get that money from?
    “UKIP offer nothing to young people”
    When you have answered the above question, you will identify a very large pot of money that had its taxpayer origins here in the UK. And once we in the UK don’t have to shovel £55 million PER DAY (!), into that black hole gravy train called the EU, I can assure you that UKIP will have a lot more money to offer the promotion of our young people. And in contrast, what have LibDems offered our young people in the last 4 years, apart from an average of £40,000 student debt?

  • Peter Hayes 29th Apr '14 - 9:10pm

    This is why we should be fighting for IN. Students learning and working in Europe are the best hope for a democratic and social world without bias my age seem unfortunately to be biased towards UKiP.

  • I’m going on a university Study placement to Madrid in September and I can conform that Erasmus+ is an excellent scheme!

  • You mean a glorified and expensive student exchange programme? We have exchange programmes all over the world like countries like India and America and we aren’t in political union with them. We don’t need to be in an expensive, anti-democratic, bureaucratic organisation for universities and countries to organise student exchanges!

  • Clive William 30th Apr '14 - 10:48am

    “The new revamped Erasmus+ programme has a total budget of £12 billion, with £100 million already earmarked for the UK in 2014 alone.”

    So, by the the end of Thursday 2nd of January 2013, the UK had already dumped enough cash into the EU coffers for this scheme. It’s the “with £100 million already earmarked for the UK alone” bit that makes me feel you’re amazed and we should be grateful for this.

    It’s easy really. For every pound spent by any government is money either taxed or borrowed which, however you spin it, comes from the wealth created by individuals or companies. Every pound taxed or borrowed creates less employment. A vicious circle which politicians simply cannot grasp as they believe they, and only they as the State, are somehow responsible for a nation’s wealth and, perversely, know best how to spend other people’s money. Makes me sick. Little wonder the world is in such a mess.

  • Stuart Wheatcroft 30th Apr '14 - 7:23pm

    Erasmus+ is a fantastic scheme. I didn’t take up the scheme myself, but I still benefited from it enormously. This expansion is very welcome, and is actually a very good example of something that would be very unlikely to happen without the EU. It only works because we do it together: it’s very unlikely that individual nation states would try anything on an even vaguely comparable scale.

    It’s also striking to see anti-Europeans now forced to resort to an argument which amounts to “This one scheme does not, by itself, justify the entire European Union”.

  • Eddie Sammon 30th Apr '14 - 11:11pm

    This makes me want to vote for someone else. I can’t stand taxing people to pay for middle class schemes :(.

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