By Sofia Pegoraro

“We want Ukrainians in the EU family but we need to look at the legal restraints” – Ukraine in the Erasmus+ programme

Gabriel Mariya says the European Commission does not plan to change the status of Ukraine inside the Erasmus + programme. The European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth replied to the suggestion proposed by MEP Tomasz Frankowski. The Polish MEP, during the last meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education, asked for more concrete solutions to support Ukrainian students.

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On April 25th 2022 the EP’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) met to share with the representatives of the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture different views on the 2022 Annual Programmes on Erasmus+, European Solidarity Corps and Creative Europe.

Central in the dialogue was the role of the Erasmus+ programme in the reinforcement of the Ukrainian educational system. The Commission promised more flexibility for Ukrainian students but there is not the willingness to promote Ukraine to a third country associated with the programme. Commissioner Gabriel stated during the meeting that “we want Ukrainians in the EU family but we need to look at the legal restraints of the programme”.

Being a third country non-associated to the programme Erasmus + has a series of limits in the development of youth projects and education. It restricts the participation of the non-associated countries to only some Actions of the Programme.

The promotion to a third country associated with the programme would allow Ukraine to take part in any Actions of the Programme, only requiring the signature of the Association Agreement between the European Union and the country in question.

Culture and education play a strategic role in the preservation of the Ukrainian identity, with the need for new funds for Ukrainian teachers and new materials to support their training. The Commissioner intends to employ the unprecedented investment of the Next Generation EU also with regard to this pressing issue. In his intervention in Strasbourg on April 5th Massimiliano Smeriglio, MEP of S&D and member of the CULT Committee, drew attention to the need for united protection against minors and young people fleeing the war in Ukraine. Almost 3 million children are in need and only 47.000 have been reached by educational and recreational material.

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Many challenges lie in fact on states that are called to integrate Ukrainian students and teachers in their systems to prevent possible long-lasting effects of this conflict.

MP’s Michaela Šojdrovà from Czechia urged the Commission to find a plan to ensure a system of mutual recognition of teaching professions for Ukrainian refugees.

It is important to employ all the possibilities that digital education provides, so to prevent further lasting effects, such as early school leaving or segregation in the school environment, which lead to social exclusion and discrimination.