Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-10-24-Speech-2-335"

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". Mr President, Commissioner, it is, of course, a good thing that we can give the green light to these important learning programmes, for, as you so rightly say education is more. Nevertheless, I, like the rapporteur, have mixed feelings. As Mrs Pack said before me, I would argue that the Member States should never have cut back on these programmes – not as drastically, at any rate, as has now been the case. These are programmes that can help us make young people into European citizens, the Europeans of the future. Why ever have we been so brutal in the cutbacks for those programmes? That is extremely short-sighted and in any event a missed opportunity for the EU’s future. I think that the Member States have given a perfect illustration of how to queer one’s own pitch. I am sure that the Commissioner will agree with me when I say that every Erasmus student, every Comenius student – and I have met a huge number over the years – every student ends up having a life-forming experience. It broadens their horizons, improves their chances of employment, brings them into contact with others, they experience diversity and learn how to deal with it. In that way, these programmes also contribute to tolerance and, needless to say, to European citizenship. This House should, in actual fact, have thrown out this limited budget, but that is a different matter, of course. It should have done that not least with social reasons in mind, for quite a few students who come from more socially vulnerable environments and backgrounds will now find it much more difficult to take part in Erasmus. There is no point, though, as somebody already said, in regretting past actions. It is too late for that. We now have to pull out all the stops to make the most of what we have. I think that schools are sufficiently creative in seeking, and finding, additional sources of income to fund those programmes. Industry, possibly backed by the European Union or national governments, may be able to help. Why could businesses not sponsor exchange projects? A factory that is local to me – Ford – could, for example, invite final-year pupils or students for visits to their sister factories in different countries across the border. It is just a thought, but there may be some scope there. It is crucially important that we promote the exchange of students and schools to the best of our ability. I would, at this early stage, express the hope that the Council and the Member States will realise that cutbacks on the forthcoming multi-annual programme are bound to leave their mark on programmes like these, and I wish you, Commissioner, the very best in your endeavours to implement the next programme 2007-2013."@en1

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