Commission urged to unblock Erasmus+ funds for Greek NGOs

The Erasmus Generation has mostly remained behind the scenes within NGOs, multinationals, and public administration. It is time for them to take on more political responsibilities and use their hands-on understanding of Europe, writes João Pinto. [Emka74/shutterstock]

This article is part of our special report Youth unemployment.

The European Youth Forum has urged the European Commission to restore Erasmus+ funding for Greek NGOs. EURACTIV Greece reports.

Due to administrative procedures, the funding of Greek youth NGOs under the Erasmus+ Youth programme has been blocked for more than a year, causing severe problems.

The financing of European programs for youth organizations in Greece used to be under the supervision of a national agency, the Foundation for Youth and Lifelong Learning (INEDIVIM), which is allegedly under the European Commission’s scrutiny.

In a statement on 28 April 2015, INEDIVIM stressed that regarding applications submitted during the assessment period Round 1 / 2015 with a deadline on 4 February 2015, “the National Agency will not proceed immediately to complete the assessment process and hence the adoption of Grant Decision for Beneficiaries”.

“The reason that creates this is that the National Agency has been suspended from funding”, the statement said, without specifying the reason for the suspension of funding as well as how this came about.

EURACTIV was told that the problem came up when different Greek governments changed the managing authority of Erasmus+ scheme several times, before the ultimate decision of the Syriza-led government to fully transfer Erasmus+ management to the State Scholarship Foundation (IKY).

Commission’s stance

EURACTIV Greece asked the European Commission to explain the reasons behind the funding suspension.

Nathalie Vandystadt, Spokesperson for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, attributed it to a Greek government decision to change the national agency responsible for Erasmus+ funds.

“In July 2015 the Greek government, by ministerial decree, designated the State Scholarship Foundation (IKY) as the single Erasmus+ National Agency in Greece, and decided to transfer the management of the Youth part of the Erasmus+ programme to this Agency,” the Commission official said.

She continued, saying that the process of transferring the management powers to the agency was currently ongoing, and that the Commission was in close contact with the Greek authorities on this point.

“Once the transfer is finalized, the full implementation of the programme in Greece can be restored. During this time, Greek organisations can still participate in the Programme as partners in the projects submitted to and funded by the Erasmus+ National Agencies in other Programme Countries,” she noted.

“Unacceptable” situation

The European Youth Forum (YFJ), which represents 99 youth organisations in Europe, reacted strongly.

“It is unacceptable that an EU country’s young people and youth organizations do not currently, and have not for some time had access to EU funding because of administrative and political issues on a national level,” Johanna Nyman, President of YFJ told EURACTIV Greece.

“Erasmus+ schemes and the funding they provide have direct benefits for young people and youth organizations and this situation must be solved as soon possible,” she added.

Filaretos Vourkos, a Greek youth worker, pointed out that the Commission could have followed another process that would help Greek NGOs.

He said that the European Commission could have temporarily taken over the management of the Greek Erasmus+ directly, until the administrative process in Greece was completed.

Vourkos noted, though, that funding was not the only burden of the Greek youth society.

“Youth work is not recognized, and there is no any legal framework for volunteering […] the renaissance of a crisis-hit country needs a bottom-up approach. Once Greek politicians realize it, young people in Greece will see the bright side of the things,” the youth worker concluded.  

Subscribe to our newsletters