Labour MEP for Munster, Phil Prendergast, has spoken out against cuts to the EU budget which will affect students in third-level institutions such as LIT Tipperary, and around the country.
Speaking after a plenary debate in the European Parliament on the risks to the Erasmus programme, Ms. Prendergast reacted to current payment shortfalls and cuts proposed by the Council for the budget 2013.
The current 2012 EU budget has a shortfall of €9 billion in various programmes (including cohesion and rural spending) €90 million of which concern the ERASMUS programme, a student mobility program which sends Irish students across the EU to study. This shortfall will be replicated in the 2013 budget with the cuts proposed by Member States, which the European Parliament opposes.
Ms. Prendergast said: “For all its success, even with the current resources, ERASMUS is extremely underfunded and undervalued. We should have an ambition to make it universally accessible to our students, not only at the third level but also for those who opted for vocational training.
“ERASMUS plays a key role in fostering a sense of community among the European youth. The conservative, recessionary responses to the current crisis have inflicted pain and unemployment on our youths and deny them hope in the European Project.”
“Not only must we save ERASMUS from blind austerity, we need to fight to expand it way beyond its current scale”, she said.