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IZ takes a stand on the merger of the programme management for "Erasmus+" and "European Solidarity Corps”

The association "IZ - Verein zur Förderung von Vielfalt, Dialog und Bildung" expresses its regret about the decision to bundle the overall management of the EU programmes "Erasmus+" and "European Solidarity Corps" in one National Agency from 1.1.2021 and would like to point out the following facts.

IZ has been already involved in the development of European mobility programmes in the youth sector in Austria for 28 years and has been acting as National Agency for the youth sector for 21 years in total. During this period, IZ has built up expertise to ensure that the EU programmes "Erasmus+: Youth in Action" and "European Solidarity Corps" are implemented in line with the specific characteristics of the youth sector. The successful fulfilment of this mission was also crucial for the acquisition of additional funds for the establishment of a Europe-wide youth research network (RAY) and the European Solidarity Corps Resource Centre.

The Federal Ministry of Labour, Family and Youth and the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research justified the decision to merge the management of the programmes by the need to implement recommendations of the European Commission and the Austrian Court of Auditors. IZ notes that the current proposal of the European Commission for the new generation of programmes states the following:

In order to ensure efficient and effective implementation of this Regulation, the Programme should make maximum use of delivery mechanisms already in place. The implementation of the Programme should therefore be entrusted to the Commission, and to national agencies. Where feasible, and in order to maximise efficiency, the national agencies should be the same as the one designated for the management of the predecessor programme. The scope of the ex-ante compliance assessment should be limited to the requirements that are new and specific to the Programme, unless justified, such as in case of serious shortcomings or underperformance on the part of the national agency concerned.

Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL establishing 'Erasmus': the Union programme for education, training, youth and sport and repealing Regulation (EU) No 1288/2013 - COM/2018/367 final - 2018/0191 (COD)

In addition, independent audit bodies have confirmed in recent years that the program has been implemented by IZ flawlessly, efficiently and cost-effectively. The reference by the federal ministries to a recommendation by the EU Commission is therefore incomprehensible to IZ.

The content of the Court of Audit's draft report is not known to the IZ to date, and the main reasons for the decision have not been communicated to IZ. The question of the concrete potential for improvement therefore currently remains open.

IZ therefore welcomes the many voices from civil society and in particular the youth sector in Austria that have called for a public tender for the implementation of the EU youth support programmes. It is regrettable to note that - after 28 years of successful work in the youth sector under the "Erasmus+" and "European Solidarity Corps" programmes - there will no longer be an independent National Agency for non-formal education from 2021 onwards.

Even without being commissioned as a National Agency, IZ will continue to work for participation, equal opportunities and inclusion, the ability to participate and shape decisions and the promotion of an appreciative approach to diversity in society from 2021.