European personalities urge EU leaders to back Erasmus

  

More than 100 European personalities from the worlds of education, art, literature, economics, philosophy and sport have signed an open letter to EU heads of state and government in support of the threatened Erasmus student exchange programme.

The signatories come from every member state of the EU and include Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar, the president of FC Barcelona Sandro Rosell, Nobel Prize winner Professor Christopher Pissarides and several Olympic champions.

They are responding to concerns that student places on the scheme, as well as grants, may have to be severely reduced due to wrangling over the 2012 and 2013 EU budgets.

The programme already faces a €90 million shortfall this year and it is feared the situation will worsen in 2013.

Over the past 25 years, Erasmus has enabled nearly three million young Europeans to study abroad. More recently, it has also supported job placements in companies abroad.

A whole generation has learned what it means to live and work alongside people from another culture, and to develop the skills and versatility which are vital for the modern labour market.

The letter warns that unless the 2012 and 2013 EU budgets are sufficient to meet pledges already made to students on the basis of previously agreed commitments, "thousands could miss out on a potentially life-changing experience".

The threat to the programme could not come at a worse time for Europe's young people. Youth unemployment among 15- to 24-year-olds has increased by half since the start of the crisis and, today, one in five young Europeans – more than five million – are without a job.

The letter calls for investment in education and training to be at the heart of Europe's response to the crisis. It also highlights the Commission's plans to increase opportunities for young people to boost their skills and employability under the new 'Erasmus for All' programme, due for launch in 2014.

The letter concludes: "Erasmus for All will cost less than 2% of the total EU budget. In the coming weeks, you, the EU's government leaders, will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to endorse the new programme and give it the resources it needs. Our youngsters deserve it. Our future depends on it."

Androulla Vassiliou, European commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, welcomed the publication of the letter. "The Erasmus programme has been changing lives and opening minds for 25 years. Long may that continue! Young people have had to bear the brunt of the crisis. They need our support more than ever now. I am proud and moved that so many people, from different walks of life, have come forward to declare their support for Erasmus."

Signatories

Austria

Serge Falck, actor

Peter Hofbauer, theatre director

Uwe Kroeger, musical star

Vera Russwurm, TV moderator

René Kremser, Erasmus ambassador, Institute for Social Service

Belgium

Jonathan & Kevin Borlée, Olympic athletes

Axelle Red, singer

Lien Van de Kelder, Intellectual Property-consultant, actress and former Erasmus student           

Bulgaria

Stefka Kostadinova, chair of national Olympic Committee, world record holder in high jump

Professor Rumyana Todorova, Erasmus ambassador, Vice-Rector of Science, Research and International Relations, Shumen University

Boryana Klinkova, Erasmus ambassador, International Programmes Coordinator, Friedrich-Alexander-University, Erlangen-Nuremberg

Czech Republic

Jiří Bělohlávek, chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic

Pavel Nedvěd, ex-footballer, board member at Juventus

Eva Jiřičná, architect and designer

Martin Wichterle, entrepreneur

Cyprus

Professor Christopher Pissarides, 2010 Nobel laureate in economics

Michalis Sarris, economist and former Finance Minister

Pavlos Kontides, sailor, 2012 Olympic silver medal winner

Cyprien Katsaris, pianist

Vivian Kanari, TV presenter

Denmark

Professor Marlene Wind, Director of Centre for European Politics, University of Copenhagen

Professor Gerard Byrne, Artist, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art

Estonia

Helen Lokuta, opera singer

Johannes Tralla, TV journalist

Finland

Tuomo Martikainen, Professor Emeritus of the University of Helsinki

Paula Pietilä, Erasmus ambassador, Disability Coordinator, University of Turku

France

Lilian Thuram, ex-footballer, World Cup & Euro winner, director of anti-racism foundation

Professor Pierre Joliot-Curie, biologist, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, grandson of Marie Curie

Michel Serres, philosopher and author

Cédric Villani, mathematician, vice-president of EuropaNova

Germany

Detlev Buck, producer and actor

Daniel Brühl, actor

Cornelia Funke, author

Peter Scholze, professor of mathematics

Greece

Sia Kosioni, journalist

Maria Farantouri, singer

Giannis Tsimitselis, actor

Dionisis Tsaknis, composer

Dr Gkikas Magiorkinis, 2012 Marie Curie Prize winner, University of Oxford and University of Athens

Hungary

Áron Szilágyi, fencer, world champion and 2012 Olympic gold medal winner

Eszter Ónodi, actress

Ireland

Mick Galwey, former Irish rugby captain

Gerry McLoughlin, mayor of Limerick and former rugby international

Noelle O’Connell, executive director, European Movement Ireland

Jessica Gough, Erasmus ambassador, National University of Ireland, Galway

Italy

Beppe Severgnini, journalist, columnist and writer

Margherita Hack, astrophysicist and science writer

Federico Taddia, radio DJ and TV anchor

Elisa Di Francisca, fencer, 2012 Olympic gold medal winner

Latvia

Juris Šteinbergs, professor of molecular biology and TV personality

Lauris Reiniks, Latvian singer, songwriter, TV presenter and actor

Aleksejs Naumovs, Erasmus ambassador and rector of the Art Academy of Latvia Lauris Reiniks, Latvian singer, songwriter, TV presenter and actor

Madara Apsalone, Erasmus Student Network Vice National Representative, Ministry of Finance

Lithuania

Rūta Meilutytė, swimmer, 2012 Olympic gold medal winner

Martynas Levickis, concert accordionist

Erica Jennings, singer songwriter

Luxembourg

Liz May, triathlon athlete

Jean Muller, pianist

Patrick Weimerskirch, President of the Youth Parliament

Joseph Lorent, journalist and Secretary General of the Press Council

Ranga Yogeshwar, author, scientific journalist and physicist

Malta

Valerie Vella, TV presenter

Pierre Mejlak, author

Ira Losco, pop singer

The Netherlands

Bram Peper, Erasmus ambassador, assistant professor, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Désirée Majoor, Erasmus ambassador, Vice-President of the Executive Board, HKU University of the Arts Utrecht

Poland

Wojciech Błach, actor

Jerzy Baczyński, editor-in-chief, Polityka

Wilhelm Sasnal, artist, winner of the 2006 Vincent van Gogh Biennial Award for Contemporary Art

Małgorzata Ludwisiak, curator and deputy Director, Art Museum of Łodz

Portugal

Vasco da Graça Moura, President, Centro Cultural de Belém

Fernando Carvalho Rodrigues, scientist and former NATO Director

Teresa de Sousa, journalist

Professor Manuel Jose Santos Silva, Beira Interior University

Romania

Ivan Patzaichin, sprint canoe champion

Vlad Petreanu, journalist and blogger

Luca Niculescu, journalist and TV anchor

Slovenia

Mojca Mavec, journalist, TV show host, publicist

Eva and Nika Prusnik, singers, Youth on the Move ambassadors

Slovakia

Emília Vašáryová, actress

Karin Habšudová, tennis player

Adela Banášová, TV presenter

Spain

Pedro Almodovar, film director

Sandro Rosell, president, FC Barcelona

Fernando Savater, philosopher and writer

Enrique Pérez Vergara (Flipy), TV presenter

Javier Marías, writer, member of the Royal Spanish Academy

Sweden

Anders Wijkman, senior advisor Stockholm Environment Institute and President, Club of Rome

Staffan Nilsson, President, European Economic and Social Committee

Rolf Gustavsson, journalist

Hans Åhl, Erasmus ambassador, Mid Sweden University

Karl-Fredrik Ahlmark, Erasmus ambassador, University of Gothenburg

United Kingdom

Rhodri Morgan, former First Minister for Wales

David Hare, playwright

Larry Lamb, actor

Sian Lloyd, TV weather presenter

Dr Claire Belcher, 2012 Marie Curie Prize winner, University of Exeter

Cornelia Parker OBE, sculptor and installation artist

John Stezaker, artist

Gwyneth Lewis, poet and authorMererid Hopwood, poet and author

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