The education sector won the biggest percentage increase under the EU's long-term budget and is set to leap 71%, from €8.76 billion to €15.2 billion, for the period 2014-2020 under proposals submitted last week.
But the EU executive wants to accompany the funding boost with a simplified organisation, causing teething problems with other education programmes which currently receive EU funding.
Education funding is currently divided into three elements. Lifelong Learning encompasses the academic exchange scheme Erasmus, vocational training scheme Leonardo da Vinci, teacher-training scheme Comenius, and adult education scheme Grundtvig.
Together, these account for the lion's share (€7.1 billion) of the current funds. Youth in Action – the scheme which offers more informal training opportunities – and global progammes such as Erasmus Mundus are administered separately.
Re-brand would see Erasmus name used for all programmes
According to internal policy documents seen by EurActiv, in advance of the massive budget injection these programmes would all be rolled under one 'Education Europe' programme.
Dennis Abbott, the spokesman for Education Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, told EurActiv: "They [the separate programmes] have been characterised by a proliferation of small-scale projects and some of them lack the critical mass to have a long-lasting impact. There are also some overlaps between actions – this has led to increased management costs and has confused potential applicants."
More controversially, the EU executive is set to ditch the marketing names of the programmes in its stable and capitalise on its best-known and most attractive brand, badging them all Erasmus, or 'New Erasmus'.
The Commission believes that – unlike some of the other named schemes – the Erasmus brand is recognised almost everywhere, and is arguably the best-known EU programme of all, regardless of policy area.
Capitalising on the visibility of Erasmus would raise wider awareness of the Commission’s financial support for study, training and volunteering in all spheres and age groups, EU officials believe.
Fears that name change will mean some lose out
The name change element is still under discussion at the European Parliament and among stakeholders, some of whom have expressed concern that the loss of names such as Youth in Action will lead to a corresponding loss of funding.
An EU official told EurActiv: "This is not correct. The Commission's proposal means more support for formal education and for youth. It is not true that the abolition, for example, of a separate Youth Programme means the abolition or reduction of informal youth education programmes."
He added: "A programme is a means, not an end: we want to focus on the best way to help young people - not on the best way to keep the current administrative structures unchanged."
The re-brand would come at a significant moment since under the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) the numbers of youths, students and academics that would be involved in the various training mobility programmes is set to almost double from 400,000 each year at the moment to between 700,000 and 800,000 each year.
Areas set to receive a specific boost are Master's Degree level research – which will benefit from a new programme involving the European Investment Bank providing guarantees for students – and professorial exchanges.