Zoltán Massay-Kosubek

It would be so easy to cut the budget of the ERASMUS Programme to make immediate, short term savings in period of economic crisis. It is true that there is a massive push on national political leaders to achieve as many cuts at European budget level as possible.

From this perspective, maintaining the same level of the ERASMUS budget would be a real victory for those who intend to defend the ERASMUS project.

(source of the photo: Wikipedia)

See an intersting infographic here prepared by the Blogactiv team laying out a few statistics on the world’s most successful student exchange programme, from 2010-2011

But it can be considered only as a defeat for those who think that the ERASMUS project is the third most relevant achievement of the EU (after the 60 years period of piece and the economic union based on the supranational Union law) the relevance cannot be overestimated of. Therefore, for us, only a massive increase of the budget of the ERASMUS programme could be acceptable as a real European answer to the crisis

It only required simple long term thinking in a time when unfortunately short term savings became the buzzwords.

The problem I identified in my practice (which mainly covers the public health EU policy) that all interested parties would like to have immediate, short term benefits preferably right now. Thus, it is quite difficult to make people understand that long term benefits are more serious and therefore more important and decisive than the quickly changing short term effects. This applies to public health at EU level but also to education – including the ERASMUS programme.

Why then? Why cannot European politicians appreciate the importance of long term savings? The answer is included into the question. Because they are politicians. Even, presuming their best will, their mindset is focused on the next election turn. And since the longest democratic mandate in the EU is 5 years in case of MEPs, this is clearly not long enough to make political benefits from successful long term projects such as the ERASMUS programme. (Not to mention the technocrats who do not have democratic mandate at all.)

How could I best describe the true nature of those “long term benefits” in a simple and easy way?

Let’s take the example of an imaginable Eastern European law student from the 1999-2004 university period. Due to the ERASMUS programme, a student in that time could have been spent 4 months in Paris in the semesters 2002-2003. Later on, inspired by the experiences got there, imagine that 4 years later, in 2007, he would have successfully applied for a traineeship for the European Court of Justice paid by the EU. This traineeship would have been made possible for him to join his home country’s national administration, as a member of the department responsible for EU affairs for further 4 years, from 2008 to 2011. And now, in 2012, this former student could be situated in Brussels, working closely with the EU and he would be probably fully convinced in the benefits of the European integration.

Having said that, it is clearly visible that a simple 4 months ERASMUS scholarship could be seen as an investment in having committed, EU-minded professionals later on. Europe urgently needs such professionals. Believe me when I am saying that the ERASMUS is the cheapest and best way to achieve this goal not only because I know quite many people having similar success stories but also because this imaginary law student was me.

„Don’t let anyone ever make you feel like you don’t deserve what you want.”

I remain at your disposal.

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