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35 years of Erasmus: Regions can help to make the 'EU success story' more inclusive  

Since 1987, the Erasmus programme has been connecting people and regions in Europe and all around the world. These ties have boosted European identity and introduced young people to new cultures, languages and professional vocations. Speaking at the closing event of the 35th anniversary year, Tanya Hristova (BG/EPP), Chair of the European Committee of the Regions' SEDEC Commission, called for the European Commission to collaborate with regions and cities to ensure that people from all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds and from all EU regions are able to benefit from the programme.

In the current multiannual EU budget, the funding for the Erasmus+ programme for education, training, youth and sport has been nearly doubled to €26,2 billion, with 70% of the budget supporting mobility. About 10 million individuals, including students, learners, professors, teachers and trainers in all sectors, are expected to participate in mobility activities abroad during the course of the programme.

The 35th anniversary event on 14 December was opened by Margaritis Schinas, European Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life. Speaking in a panel alongside Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, SEDEC commission chair Tanya Hristova pointed the need to further reinforce and promote EU youth programmes and address socioeconomic and geographic barriers, in order to widen participation and to allow more young people, including those from disadvantaged groups, to get experience abroad.

"Erasmus+ is one of the EU programmes that has the most impact on young people and is one that they are most familiar with. However, there are young people in some regions who do not benefit from this program with the intensity they all deserve, mainly for two reasons: socioeconomic status and geographic barriers. These barriers diminish diversity in participation in Erasmus+ and hinder the fulfilment of the program's objectives. For this reason, we invite the Commission to work together with local and regional authorities, who, given their proximity, know best what is at stake in their territories, including the needs of students", Ms Hristova, Mayor of Gabrovo, said.

Ms Hristova also presented the Charter on Youth and Democracy, which was developed together with the European Youth Forum and signed at the CoR plenary session in early December. ​With the upcoming European Year of Skills 2023, she invited the European Commission to cooperate with regions and municipalities to ensure that the needs for skills and competencies are covered everywhere in Europe especially in view of the green and digital transitions.

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