Lib Dems commit to tripling Erasmus budget ahead of EU elections

Liberal Democrats leader Sir Vince Cable. Photograph: David Mirzoeff/PA.

Liberal Democrats leader Sir Vince Cable. Photograph: David Mirzoeff/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The Liberal Democrats have confirmed that every Liberal Democrat MEP elected in the European elections will be another vote in favour of tripling the budget for Erasmus+, the EU student exchange programme.

Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Layla Moran MP said that Erasmus+ "opens doors and creates opportunities young people would otherwise never have" but warned that Brexit threatens the UK's involvement.

The call comes as analysis from the Liberal Democrats shows that 136,380 university students from the UK benefited from studying or working abroad thanks to Erasmus+ between 2007 and 2017.

The European Union is currently approving a new draft law governing how Erasmus+ will operate after 2021. MEPs, including the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group, of which the Liberal Democrats are members, voted overwhelmingly in March to triple the budget for Erasmus.

Meanwhile, Conservative MEPs abstained on the final package despite the Government's Brexit White Paper stating that it was "open to exploring participation" in Erasmus+ after 2021.

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The new European parliament will have to vote again on the proposals should they be amended by the Council of Ministers after the EU Elections.

Liberal Democrat education spokesperson, Layla Moran MP said: "Erasmus+ opens doors and creates opportunities young people would otherwise never have. Yet too many great projects have lost out on funding because the budget is too small. By tripling it from 2021, we can triple the number of students on the programme and provide larger grants to disadvantaged young people to study abroad.

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"Brexit, however, puts all of this under threat: no country that isn't in the Single Market or applying for EU membership is an associate member of Erasmus.

"It will be the poorest students - who get additional grants to study abroad and subsidised travel to and from the UK - who have the most to lose. They deserve better, and Liberal Democrats demand better.

"We must not give up on the next generation. That is why every vote for the Liberal Democrats at the European elections is a vote to stop Brexit so that studying abroad is not something only the wealthy can afford."

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