Brussels contradicted the statement sent out on Monday by the Spanish Minister of Culture Jose Ignacio Wert, after he suggested that new EU funding criteria will see the number of Spanish Erasmus students reduced by half next year.
In one of the harshest attacks on the Spanish government that has recently come out of Brussels, the Commission described the minister's words as 'rubbish'.
In Spain, the spokesperson said, the budget for Erasmus students will increase by more than 4% in 2014, and it is expected to rise by 60% by 2020.
'I don't know how to put this any more diplomatically, but that's rubbish. Erasmus + will have a 40% increase on current levels of expenditure. That means that countries should be able to send more students on Erasmus higher education mobility than it's presently the case', said European Commission's spokesperson Dennis Abbott.
The Commission also said that a potential decrease in the number of Spanish Erasmus students could only happen if the Spanish authorities decide to cut their contribution towards the scheme.
'If the Spanish authorities reduced their national or regional contributions in the future, as we understand may be the intention, then it's possible that the national number of Erasmus students may fall, but that will be entirely a decision for the Spanish authorities, not for the Commission'.
Even though it's the country with the 5th largest population in the EU, in 2014 it will receive the 4th total budget share under Erasmus +, nearly 124 million euros (…). this is because in addition to the population size that the minister mentioned, past performance in terms of the number of Spanish Erasmus students is still taken into account', said European Commission's spokesperson Dennis Abbott.
Between 2012 and 2013, Spain sent abroad over 40000 students, the highest number in the EU.