The EESC stresses the importance of maintaining and increasing, wherever possible, the effective use of resources assigned at national and EU level to education and training with a view to improving the employment situation.
The Erasmus for All Programme should be a key instrument for increasing support for education and training in order to enhance citizens' skills, help tackle the high levels of youth unemployment in many Member States, meet the need for qualified labour, and resolve skills mismatches. Skill mismatches, where they exist, should be reduced in order to decrease unemployment, in particular among young people.
The EESC acknowledges the proposal for a significant budget increase of up to EUR 19 billion for a future programme and therefore supports the overall budget proposal by the European Commission, and calls on the European Parliament and the Council to support this increase.
Due to the current economic situation, the EESC strongly supports the measures proposed in the Programme.
The Committee notes that it is necessary to take the long-term prospects of individual sectors into account and to apply the principles of reasonable austerity and "smart" budgeting.
The EESC strongly recommends retention of the separate and independent sub-Programmes with an individual minimum budget allocation for the main sectors in the Programme.
In order to implement the main strategic objectives of the EU, it is necessary to pursue coherence of formal education and non-formal and informal learning, which means that non-formal and informal learning must be of equal significance to formal education in the current Programme proposal.
The EESC is concerned that some of the actions that currently work well and are appreciated in the Youth in Action Programme are missing, and that their absence may lead to a significant decline in European cooperation in the field of youth.
The EESC believes that acquiring and improving skills and knowledge involves more than the current key aim of eliminating barriers to employment, and encompasses development of active citizenship and social cohesion, but these objectives are not given attention in the proposal. Moreover, the role of the social partners should be strengthened as well as other civil society organisations in the new Erasmus Programme.