[Seul le texte prononcé fait foi]
Membre de la Commission européenne charge de l'Education, de la Culture, du Multilinguisme et de la Jeunesse
Avec Erasmus+, le message est clair: l'Europe investit dans ses jeunes
Conférence nationale pour le lancement d'Erasmus+
Paris, 29 septembre 2014
Mesdames et Messieurs les Ministres,
Monsieur Villani, Madame et Monsieur les directeurs d'agence
C'est un grand plaisir pour moi d'ouvrir aujourd'hui cette conférence nationale sur Erasmus+, le nouveau programme Européen pour l'éducation, la formation, la jeunesse et le sport. Votre présence, Mesdames et Messieurs les Ministres, témoigne de l'engagement des autorités françaises vis-à vis d'Erasmus+, et je tiens au nom de la Commission à vous en remercier. Car, il faut le dire: sans l'engagement de la France, et notamment du Président François Hollande dans la négociation budgétaire et de Mme Fioraso aux moments cruciaux de la négociation technique du programme, Erasmus+ n'aurait pas le même visage.
Au cours des trente dernières années, Erasmus a ouvert les esprits et changé la vie de plus de trois millions de personnes.
Il est - et reste - le symbole des valeurs et des aspirations les plus essentielles du projet Européen. Il a formé, et continue à le faire, de véritables citoyens européens, cette fameuse génération Erasmus.
Aujourd'hui, Erasmus+, dispose d’un budget de près de 15 milliards d'euros - auxquels il faut ajouter 1.7 Mds € pour sa dimension internationale - soit 40 % en plus que les programmes précédents. Il étendra ainsi ces possibilités à plus de quatre millions de personnes, leur donnant la chance d'étudier, de se former, d'acquérir une expérience professionnelle ou de travailler en tant que bénévoles à l’étranger, tout en découvrant des cultures, des langues et des personnes différentes. En France, ce sont ainsi plus de 500 000 étudiants ou autres qui participeront à une mobilité Erasmus.
Avec Erasmus+, le message est clair: l'Europe investit dans ses jeunes. Elle investit sur vos capacités, votre formation, vos projets et vos envies. Donc, ne manquez pas les opportunités qu'offre un tel programme, en particulier en ce début d'année académique. Car une expérience Erasmus+, cela se prépare!
Si vous me le permettez, je souhaiterais maintenant continuer en anglais.
I would like today to underline why we want you to be a part of Erasmus +.
Throughout my mandate I have worked to put education and training at the heart of the European Union's plans for growth and jobs. It is our human capital - the knowledge, skills and creativity of our people - that will deliver the intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth that we all want to see. Erasmus+ turns that vision into reality. Today, education is at the centre of EU policy-making, including of the Economic governance.
Our message is clear: investment in education and training must continue even as we consolidate our public finances in many countries.
This is why Erasmus+ supports all levels of education, from virtual platforms for school teachers, to the unique needs of adult learners. We will only reconcile equity and excellence by understanding the journey from one phase of education to the next and by building bridges between them.
The plus in Erasmus+ signifies that it is not only a programme for students. It also covers apprentices, teachers, academic staff, youth workers and volunteers. More than ever before, Erasmus+ will support the long-term shaped political goals that we have agreed at European level.
Together with Member States we have agreed that early school leaving is an urgent priority; therefore Erasmus+ will share the best solutions from across Europe. We have identified poor reading skills as a serious problem; Erasmus+ will fund new cross-border projects to tackle it. We know that our foreign language skills are falling behind; Erasmus+ will support initiatives to boost them.
We need to open up education to new technologies; Erasmus+ will support better use of ICT for learners and teachers. Our vocational training systems are too often failing our young people; Erasmus+ will help to modernise them. Students wanting to study their Master's degree abroad find it difficult to secure loans; Erasmus+ will provide a new loan guarantee. Our universities do not work closely enough with businesses; and consequently we have serious skills mismatches, Erasmus+ will bring them together.
In all of these challenges, national ministries and education departments will continue to play the leading role alongside the institutions of learning and the teachers who bring the vision to life.
But the European Union can now offer more support and more resources than ever before, since the world of education is itself globalising and facing a set of common challenges that demand cooperation, the cross-border transfer of innovations and the sharing of ideas.
This is why Erasmus+ marks a new partnership between all the actors at all levels, from the local, to the national, the European and the global.
In this new partnership, each partner must assume their responsibility. Equipping young people with the necessary skills and competences is the primary responsibility of the formal education systems of the Member States. In this perspective, I am happy to see that France has launched an in-depth reflection on the need to continue to fight inequality in education.
The Commission takes note very positively of this year's plan of "refonte de l'éducation prioritaire" which complements last year's in-depth reform 'Refondons l’école de la République’, recognising the importance of early childhood and primary education in offering equal opportunities to every child. This is crucial to face the specific education challenges France is facing.
Our role in the European Commission is not just to support these policies, it is also to place these challenges in a more European perspective.
This is why learning mobility remains at the heart of the new programme. So let us briefly remind ourselves why Erasmus has come to symbolise some of our most precious values and aspirations.
By studying, training, working and volunteering in another country, young people develop skills that will serve them for the rest of their life. They learn to stand on their own two feet. They learn to live and work with people from another culture. They learn to act in and adapt to new situations and be more entrepreneurial.
They learn a new language and a different way of thinking. In short, they open their minds; they develop themselves as individuals.
But Erasmus+ means also a Europe that is open to the world . Erasmus+ is explicitly designed to be more global and open than ever before. We strengthened and amplified the international dimension of the programme. The successful experience of Erasmus Mundus continues through the Erasmus+ joint Master Degrees. I know that this action has been particularly popular in France which has the highest number of universities involved in joint degrees. In addition, and for the first time, Erasmus mobility will be open to cooperation with countries outside the EU, using the same tools and principles as for intra-EU mobility, ie managed by EU national agencies. This is a real opportunity both for European students and the students of these countries.
Moreover, a new Capacity Building action has replaced Tempus, Alfa and Edulink and will contribute to modernising higher education systems, and building up local capacity in less developed parts of the world.
All these actions will be available in 2015 and published in the call to be launched next month.
But the value of mobility leads us to one of the paradoxes of our times. Despite record levels of unemployment and especially youth unemployment, one out of three employers cannot find people with the right skills to fill job vacancies. And today, two million jobs across the EU are waiting for the right skills profile.
A new study on the impact of mobility that I presented last week, shows that young people who study or train abroad during their higher education studies strengthen the skills that are valued by employers such as confidence, problem-solving skills and decisiveness and are half as likely to face long-term unemployment as others. The findings also tell us that graduates with international experience fare better on the job market, they are more likely to quickly find their first job and are given greater professional responsibility once they are working.
With Erasmus+, we are also financing for the first time at European level, concrete partnerships between businesses and universities the Knowledge Alliances. Our objective is to increase the employability of graduates while facilitating the transition towards the first job and decreasing the skills mismatches.
The reform of our systems of vocational education and training is also essential is this perspective. It is a fact: those countries with strong vocational systems often enjoy lower levels of youth unemployment.
Once again, the Commission welcomes the new law on vocational education and training passed last March in France. At European level, Erasmus+ funds new alliances between training providers and businesses to modernise vocational teaching - and boost the quality and quantity of apprenticeships across Europe.
If we are to really fight youth unemployment, Erasmus+ has to be more accessible to those who need it most, like people with special needs, from disadvantaged background or from remote areas. I know that in France this question is central.
The Commission has therefore proposed additional money to top up the Erasmus grant to the benefit of young people fulfilling national socio-economic criteria. Such a "social top-up" can also be financed directly by the national authorities, as France decided to do.
Erasmus+ is also a programme to enhance young people's learning experience through the informal routes of education and training, and civic participation.
Our EU Youth Strategy in particular underlines the importance of youth work, which allows young people to develop a sense of self-confidence, build up skills, and receive personalised support to overcome specific personal and social problems. We also encourage young people to participate in the democratic process and in society. This is why we strengthened the European Voluntary Service
Finally, Erasmus+ also includes a section dedicated to sport - for the very first time in the EU budget, focusing on projects at the grassroots level that have a clear European dimension.
Our aim is twofold: on the one hand, to tackle the trans-national threats that plague the world of sport, like match-fixing, violence and doping, through collaborative projects that bring together key actors from across the continent. And on the other hand, to promote the social value of sport - where sport serves as a vehicle for change, for social inclusion, health or dual careers.
Ministers, ladies and gentlemen,
We have a duty to modernise our education and training systems, both formal and informal. They need to offer the right mix of skills that life in a complex society demands. And we also have a duty to help young people make the transition from one phase of education to the next and, ultimately, to the world of work. This is a mission where we cannot afford to fail: we must give our young people the tools that will allow them to find their own path to happiness, fulfilment and a place in society. This is where Europe can make a difference.
Erasmus+ responds to this call. It offers a new partnership between all the actors of education, training and youth. It offers a new partnership between education and the world of work. And it offers more than four million people the chance to study, train, work or volunteer in another country.
Let us stand up for a Europe that is open among its neighbours and open to the world. This is my hope for Europe's young people. This is my vision for Erasmus+.