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". Mr President, Commissioner, the new ‘lifelong learning’ programme was intended to be a sufficient response, within the framework of the Lisbon process, to the challenges of the present day, for education – as we all, together with everyone else, constantly affirm – is the be-all and end-all of our countries' joint efforts at coming out top in globalised competition. I would like to sum up by saying that the ‘lifelong learning’ programme will help improve the EU’s educational and training programmes, make people more mobile, support partnerships and cooperative efforts between regions, structure the sharing of best practice and encourage the learning of foreign languages. This is a programme that will help people gain a better understanding of the European Union, make it easier for them to live together in it and practice intercultural dialogue and tolerance; it is, in fact the best communications strategy in the EU. The Council’s cuts in the general budget have also had the unfortunate effect of cutting this multi-annual programme back. The Commissioner has had no hand in these cutbacks. He was on our side, fighting for more. It is regrettable that the Member States did not want that. The final figure we arrived at was EUR 14.37 billion over seven years, but, following negotiations, we have been left with no more and no less than EUR 6.97 billion in the Financial Perspective. Even so, I want to thank all those Members who fought successfully and made it possible for us, together, to achieve a EUR 800 million increase in the funds originally allocated to this programme in the Financial Perspective. So much for the lofty goals and the bumpy return to earth. The ‘lifelong learning’ programme is founded on the two programmes ‘Socrates’ and ‘Leonardo’, develops them further and enables working in synergy. We have learned from the latest programmes; our countries’ various national agencies have acquainted us with the problems that they had with the programmes, and their views have all, in fact, been taken into account. The ‘lifelong learning’ programme includes the ‘Comenius’ programme for schools, its university counterpart ‘Erasmus’, the ‘Leonardo’ programme for vocational education and the ‘Grundvigh’ for adults, the ‘Jean Monnet’ schemes for promoting European integration and horizontal measures. I have pushed for more funds than originally planned by the Commission to be allocated to the Comenius programme on the grounds that it is, in my view, the basis for all the other educational programmes, and I have also emphasised the need for more cooperation in the border regions through a new ‘Comenius Regio’. The programme puts new emphasis on student mobility between the ages of 11 and 16, with the invaluable experience of a school year spent at a school elsewhere in the EU. We have also taken account in it of the needs of the children of migratory workers. The Leonardo programme promotes workers’ mobility and partnerships in ways that were formerly possible only through Erasmus. Grants payable under Erasmus to university students are being increased to EUR 200 per month, since the former grant was scarcely enough to live on; we had originally proposed EUR 300, but that could have been sustained only by a drastic reduction in the number of participants, and so we had to abandon the idea. Erasmus also covers preparatory language courses and travel grants. Better financial provision than before has been made for the Grundvigh programme, under which individual exchanges are now available. The programme is conceived as a response to the current state of the labour market and to population trends. Whilst continuing to make grants to the College of Europe in Bruges, the European University Institute in Florence, the European Institute of Public Administration in Maastricht and the European Law Academy in Trier, Parliament has also made provision for special grants to the European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education, Middelfart, and the in Nice. I am absolutely delighted that participation in these programmes is still open to all members of the EEA and to Switzerland and Turkey, and that the countries of the Western Balkans have recently been invited to join in; that leads me to highlight the fact that it is now high time, to say the least, that the easier visa arrangement for South-Eastern Europe took tangible form."@en1
"Centre Internationale de la Formation Européenne"1

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