Barbara Nolan, head of Erasmus+ coordination in the European Commission discusses the future of Erasmus+.
“The debate about the future of Europe is in full swing. (…)The key feature of this debate is the need for stronger efforts to connect or reconnect with citizens and listen to their views, and better understand the challenges they face in their day to day lives. It’s fair to say that during the turbulence of the financial crisis, the EU’s focus was really on trying to sort out the economy. But I think following the Gothenburg Leaders’ meeting a week ago, the social dimension of Europe is very much back on the agenda.”
Barbara Nolan was head of Erasmus+ coordination in the Directorate General for Education and Culture in the European Commission. She has spent most of her career working in Brussels, but was head of the European Commission representation in Ireland from 2010 to 2016. Drawing on this experience, and as an Irish woman herself, her speech connected European policy and political developments with its local significance.
Noting that since 1987 almost 90,000 participants from Ireland have benefited, she remarked that Erasmus+ has “led to the internationalisation of education in a big way. Before Erasmus, it was only really the ‘happy few’ who were well off enough who had the opportunity to go and study abroad. It has opened up this possibility to people who would not otherwise have had that chance”.
She highlighted the commitment to increasing Erasmus+ funding in the next generation of the programme as evidence that the EU recognises the key role of education, training and youth work in developing social cohesion and active citizenship. This is also reflected in new initiatives like the European Solidarity Corps, the consultation process on the next Youth Strategy, and the European Citizens’ Initiative. After discussing the improvements recommended in the recent midterm evaluation of the programme, she closed by telling participants and practitioners: “”
There’s nothing like the Erasmus+ programme anywhere
else in the world – or if there is, we haven’t found it. I think we can be justifiably proud of what we have collectively built together.
Listen to Barbara’s full keynote speech at the Léargas Forum 2017 on the Léargas Soundcloud page.