Erasmus+ enables students, professionals, and volunteers to benefit from international exchange and learning activities, promoting mutual cultural understanding, increasing knowledge transfer, and providing formal and non-formal educational experiences that benefit the entire European community. Erasmus+ strengthens our identity as Europeans and brings our students and staff together around shared values. It also enables young leaders from volunteer-based organisations to become responsible and empowered citizens of the European continent. It promotes active citizenship and helps to enhance participation in democratic life within European societies. Learning mobility experiences also contribute to the personal and educational development of volunteers, students, apprentices, and adults.
These are challenging times, with the Russian war in Ukraine putting pressure on the cohesion of the European continent as a whole and its societies in particular. In this context, Switzerland’s association with the Erasmus+ programme would not only extend opportunities for EU and Swiss citizens but also contribute to building a common future for our societies and economies by supporting the creation of personal, cultural, and creative ties between Swiss and EU students, volunteers, staff, and institutions. Swiss institutions offer a diverse range of learning and cultural experiences for EU learners, and the lack of a common programme providing access to these institutions hinders the development of a critical mass of mobility and cooperation schemes. Ultimately, learners affiliated with both Swiss and EU institutions are negatively impacted by this situation.
Switzerland has many institutions, of which two are members of the EUF network, committed and motivated to create new partnerships under the Erasmus+ programme. However, a broader framework is needed to allow smooth cooperation between institutions, streamline procedures, and scale mobility flows to create positive individual connections that can help face the challenges raised by our fast-changing societies.
We support the call of the Swiss National Youth Council (SNYC), ESN Switzerland, Intermundo, and VSS-UNES-USU to re-associate Switzerland with Erasmus+. All four organisations represent youth interests on the national level and advocate for the opportunities of young people in Switzerland. Since 2014, they have actively contributed to amplifying youth voices and promoting re-association with the Erasmus+ programme, which fosters mobility and learning and working opportunities across Europe.
Taking this into consideration, the EUF supports the calls made by these four organisations for:
- The Swiss government to re-launch negotiations and find practical solutions to include Switzerland in the Erasmus+ programme. We note that Switzerland’s lack of participation has had a negative impact on the equal opportunities of young people in Switzerland compared to their EU peers. Between 2014 and 2020, Switzerland was unable to participate in many projects. For comparison, Austria, which has a similar number of universities, participated in 11 times more projects.
- The European Commission and the Council of the European Union to support Switzerland’s re-association with Erasmus+.
- All parties to conduct negotiations outside of the bilateral political challenges to avoid making Swiss and EU learners hostages of this situation.