Monday, 3 March 2014

Erasmus+ first experiences from the applicants perspective

The new Generation of European Educational and youth programs - combined under ERASMUS+ is launched.
The DARE network offered its members from 3-7th february 2014 a 1 week online course dedicated to content and application procedures, functioning of the new program schemes with roome for sound discussions.
35 members from the network used this opportunity to get informed about this new program as well as about other EU funding mechanisms which can be used for EDC/HRE purposes. As the first deadlines under Erasmus+ are set out for 17th March and 30th April, the course was right in time to get first-hand information in order to soundly prepare for handing in proposals. The participants of the course were generally enthusiastic about this new offer from DARE and liked the packed sessions.
The records from online sessions will be available for DARE members only at DARE´s new e-academy, a self directed e-learning module, which will be launched soon.

At the time of the online-class the final application procedures were not published by the EC. Meanwhile our members gathered the first experiences with the online application and we received some feedbacks:

Based on the members feedbacks on the new E+ application procedure one can already identified some worrying developments, that seem to jeopardize the aim to contribute with E+ to smart, sustainable and inclusive Growth and seem to take the wrong direction. The European Commission is asked to react on these developments in order to go for better and adequate output of E+.

First of all, for small NGO´s the registration procedure for the PIC (Participants Identification Code) is difficult, thus especially as in some countries an official registration procedrue for small size NGO´s is not required by state authorities. So in some countries (especially partner regions) it will be quite difficult to meet the basic reqiorements to get the mandatory PIC.

Second: the new youth program aims to support young peoples learning mobility namely through youth exchanges: in fact the reimbursement of young peoples travel costs (based on a distance band) makes travelling for young people not living close to an international airport almost difficult. So there is the risk for an imbalance that affects young people from geographically not centred regions (and there is plenty of them all over Europe and the Partner countries) and it also is a contradiction to the aim to give more young people the experience of international learning mobility. Also as the travel support for youth workers, adults etc is far better  there is no reason to grant the youth less! Usually flight tickets for young people cost the same as for adults.

Third: almost in the last second the EC published a template for a partners mandate which is to be undersigned and handed in by each project partner at the date of delivery of the project application  in every E+ section. Why do we need to register for the application in a mandatory registration portal if in the end we do have to hand in the same underlying documents as under the previous funding programs? It was communicated when the first design of E+ was out, that this will substantially reduce the administrative burden of proposal delivery. In fact now applicants and partners do have the double administrative obligation, even before an application is being selected for funding.

Fourth: There is a central role foreseen for cross-sectoral approaches in the new E+ programs. Indeed it would be quite important to guarantee more cascading and spill over effects in the single educational fields covered by E+. But the inherent logic of formal and non-formal educational programs such as youth and comenius (school) offers almost no entry points for sound collaboration and trainings. The approaches and requirements for the target groups the applications have to follow in each sector, are too different, even if the application documents are literally the same.

Fifth: the maximum ceilings in KA 2 (namely strategic partnerships) allow just a very small scale impact. For example the maximum support set out for multiplier events (which usually guarantee exploitation and dissemination) is limited to 30000 EUR per project. In a european context this means a mid-sized workshop with 35-45 participants. The logical consequence will be more newsletters, more digital promotion of project results, which is useful only if soundly accompanied by face to face training opportunities - following recent research on digital learning.

Sixth: Indeed worrying is the development around the new Europe for Citizens Program!
This year is 2014 - the year of Elections to the European Parliament. At the beginning of March - two months before the elcations - the final negotiations on the program are still not finished. Not even to mention that the annual priorities 2014 of this program are the democratic involvement of European Citizens, the participation in the EU elections etc.
Not to mention the budgetary cuts on 6% this program faces compared to the previous program! Not to mention that this program shall ensure and support civic participation and the democratic functioning of the EU...Out of any EDC/HRE perspective a desaster!

We wish our members good luck with using the new Generation of EU programs and are keen to get infos on positive and negative learning processes...