The EU Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) was launched on 1 January 2007. With a budget of almost 7 billion euros for 2007 to 2013, it is the biggest European education programme to date and funds European exchanges of learners and teachers in all age groups, as well as cooperation among European educational institutions.
The programme supports European cooperation in education policy and contributes in particular to implementing the objectives of the Copenhagen Declaration in the area of vocational training and of the Bologna process in higher education. It pools the former programmes LEONARDO DA VINCI and SOCRATES under one umbrella.
In addition to the 27 EU states, Turkey, Croatia, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland are taking part in the programme. The Lifelong Learning Programme covers the lifelong educational career from school to higher education or vocational training to adult education. The different areas of education are reflected in the four pillar programmes: COMENIUS, LEONARDO DA VINCI, ERASMUS, and GRUNDTVIG.
The individual programme COMENIUS is geared primarily to schools and - under certain conditions - to training institutions. Funding is provided for example for school partnerships, students staying abroad, teaching assistances in other European countries for teachers in training, and continued education for teachers. At least three million school students are expected to participate in joint education activities over the course of the programme.
Further information on the individual programme COMENIUS is available on the website of the Educational Exchange Service of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (PAD) - National Agency for EU programmes in the school sector.
The individual programme ERASMUS is geared to institutions of higher education. Funding is provided for student work and study abroad schemes, for the mobility of instructors, the exchange of information within networks, and the development of European curricula. By 2013 at least three million students are expected to have had the opportunity to study abroad. Further information is available on the website of the DAAD - National Agency for EU Higher Education Programmes.
The EU vocational training programme LEONARDO DA VINCI fosters European cooperation between companies, chambers, social partners, vocational schools, and education institutions. This includes funding for stays abroad by apprentices, vocational trainees, employees, trainers, and vocational school teachers. Partnerships have been established to address European vocational education topics and "transfer of innovation" projects assist the European transfer of successful concepts and innovations. Further information is available on the website of the National Agency Education for Europe at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB).
The individual programme GRUNDTVIG is geared to all players in adult education. European adult education topics are addressed in "learning partnerships," while "multilateral projects" develop innovations for adult education. Another funding priority is the continued training of adult education instructors in other European countries. The programme is to address the educational challenges resulting from the ageing of the population. Furthermore, the programme aims to support adults who want to enhance their knowledge and skills. In addition to older people, the programme also targets adults without basic qualifications.
Further information is available on the website of the National Agency Education for Europe at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB).
The individual programmes are supplemented by a transversal programme with activities in the following priority areas:
Furthermore, the study visit programme forms part of the activities of the transversal programme. It enables multipliers and political decision-makers from the whole field of education to participate in thematic study visits in another country.
The future of the EU education programmes beyond 2013 is currently being prepared and negotiated. The comprehensive interim evaluation by the European Union and the Member States has demonstrated the clear value of the programme for Europe. We must now build on the success and knowledge gained from the current programme generation while taking current challenges in Europe into account in the orientation of the new generation of education programmes.
On 23 November 2011, the EU Commission submitted its proposal for the future programme "Erasmus for Everyone" (2014-2020). The plan is to unite existing programmes in the areas of education (Programme for Lifelong Learning) and youth (Youth in Action), as well as various programmes with third countries in the area of higher education under a single roof.
Following a broad consultation process with the key players in education policy, the Federal Government has stated its position in a national position paper on the future of the programmes. The detailed content of the position paper is available here (in German only).
On 11 May 2012, the Council of Education Ministers took a position regarding the EU Commission's proposal. During the negotiations, the BMBF was committed to ensuring that the factors which have contributed to the success of the current programmes - the clear visibility and relevance of various target groups and education sectors - will be maintained in the future. These factors were at risk of being lost in the new programme. Provisions include the setting of minimum budgets for the various fields of education, as well as a separate budget for the youth sector. Furthermore, each member state is to have the opportunity to decide how it will implement the programme nationally. With the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), and the Pedagogic Exchange Service (PAD), Germany has a differentiated, user-oriented implementation structure. These organizations are experts in their individual areas and only they can ensure the necessary quality in implementation.
The final resolution regarding the support programme will be passed after the European Parliament takes a position, which is expected in autumn of 2012.