Outcome of the Parliament's first reading on the proposed decision to establish the (Erasmus World) programme for intercultural understanding in higher education in 2004-2008

April 14, 2003

Brussels, 11 Apr 2003

Full text of Document 8289/03
Suite of documents 8289/03

Subject: Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a programme for the enhancement of quality in higher education and the promotion of intercultural understanding through co-operation with third countries (Erasmus World) (2004-2008)
- Outcome of the European Parliament's first reading (Strasbourg, 7 to 10 April 2003)

I. INTRODUCTION

The rapporteur, Ms DE SARNEZ (PPE/DE - F), presented a report consisting of 66 amendments to the proposal for a Decision, on behalf of the Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport. Moreover, the political groups put forward 12 additional amendments at the plenary.

During the plenary debate, the rapporteur stressed the importance of the proposed programme in the context of the creation of a "Europe of knowledge" which would contribute decisively to the Community's endeavours to meet the global challenges of the years to come. She underlined that the programme would both open European higher education institutions to the outside world - to the benefit of these institutions and of third country students alike - and raise the quality of higher education in Europe. As regarded the amendments proposed, the rapporteur underlined the particular importance of amendment 1 which changes the name of the programme to "Erasmus Mundus" and amendment 44 which raises the budget of the programme to EUR 300 million.

The majority of the political groups expressed their support for the approach and the amendments presented by the rapporteur. In particular, the PPE/DE stressed the need for an intercultural dialogue between higher education institutions and the importance of high quality standards in European universities. The PPE/DE also expressed its support for the proposed raising of the budget to EUR 300 million. The PSE underlined that the proposed programme would play an important part in making EU higher education more attractive for students from third countries while also encouraging a greater degree of networking between European universities. The PSE also indicated that it was of the opinion that linguistic diversity and language-learning - while important in itself - should not be over-emphasised in the context of this programme, in order to avoid hampering networking and student exchanges between institutions from small countries, in particular in the field of natural sciences. The ELDR, GUE/NGL and VERTS/ALE representatives broadly supported the approach advocated by the rapporteur but took a different view to the PSE regarding the issue of linguistic diversity and language-learning, insisting on the need to make this dimension an integral part of the programme.

On behalf of the Commission, Ms REDING underlined the importance and the popularity of the existing ERASMUS programme which was described as one of the best known Community programmes and one which enjoyed widespread support from the general public. She stressed that the present proposal aimed at widening the scope of the existing programme while respecting the prerogatives of the Member States and of the higher education institutions. She then went on to describe the Commission's position on the various amendments.

II. VOTE

Of the 78 amendments tabled, the plenary adopted 65. The amendments were adopted with an overwhelming majority of the votes. Amendments 22 and 25 did not concern all linguistic versions and, consequently, were not put to the vote. Amendments 67, 76 and 77 were annulled and amendment 68 was withdrawn. Amendment 72 ceased to be applicable as a result of the adoption of amendment 19. Amendment 29 ceased to be applicable as a result of the adoption of amendment 70. The first part of amendment 53 ceased to be applicable as a result of the adoption of amendment 69. Amendments 71, 73, 74, 75 and 78 were rejected.

Regarding the issues raised in the various amendments, the Commissioner underlined in particular that her Institution could accept the suggested change of name of the programme to "Erasmus Mundus". However, she also indicated that the Commission had difficulties with a number of the other amendments tabled, notably some of those dealing with professional qualifications, equal opportunities and selection procedures. The Commissioner also indicated that the amendments regarding comitology and the budget were not acceptable to the Commission.

The text of the amendments adopted and the European Parliament's legislative Resolution are set out in Annex hereto.

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