Doris Pack 

The chance to study abroad is one of the EU's biggest perks for young people, but the popular student exchange programme Erasmus is set to become even better. The new €14 billion Erasmus+ programme will enable more than five million people to study, train and volunteer in another country. The EP's education committee gave its blessing to the new programme on 5 November. We discussed it with Doris Pack, a German member of the EPP group who is in charge of steering the proposal through EP.

What is the biggest change compared to the original Erasmus programme that a lot of students already know?

Erasmus, as students know it, is a part of Erasmus+. The new programme is an umbrella for all formal and informal education, training, youth and sport programmes. Since we didn’t want to lose the Erasmus brand, we called the new programme Erasmus+,

Erasmus+ includes Erasmus, Erasmus Mundus, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius, Grundtvig and Youth in Action programmes and also for the first time sport. Different budgets for different programmes will be clearly separated.

How do you see the future of Erasmus+? Will more non-educational programmes be included?

If Erasmus+ did not exist, we would have to invent it. It is European added value to regional, national and sometimes local policies in the field of education and youth. We kept everything that was good before and improved it to also support those who wish to pursue Masters studies outside their country, with an easier loan to pay back guaranteed by the EU.

We have also included in Erasmus+ the European voluntary service, which gives people the possibility to try learn and experience work in other countries, all while being paid and socially secure.

What impact do you hope that Erasmus+ will have on the very high levels of youth unemployment?

Erasmus+ is not a programme aimed specificallly at tackling unemployment, but if you are better equipped, if you speak more languages, if you have better skills especially in IT, you can find a better job, although perhaps not in your own country. Mobility provides a lot of new chances.

Erasmus+ will be discussed and voted on by the European Parliament on 19 November during the plenary. For more information and contacts, click on the link for the press release on the right.