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EU programme for education, training, youth and sport

This guide is a detailed technical description of the Erasmus+ programme. It is mainly intended for organisations applying for funding.

If you are looking for a quicker overview, please read how to take part.

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What is the structure of the Erasmus+ Programme?

In order to achieve its objectives, the Erasmus+ Programme foresees the implementation of the following Actions in the 2021-2027 period:

Key Action 1 - Mobility of Individuals

This Key Action supports:

  • Mobility of learners and staff: opportunities for pupils, students, adult learners, trainees and young people, as well as for professors, teachers, trainers, educators, youth workers, sport staff, staff of education institutions and civil society organisations to undertake a learning and/or professional experience in another country;
  • Youth participation activities: youth-led local and transnational initiatives run by informal groups of young people and/or youth organisations to help young people engage and learn to participate in democratic life, raising awareness about European Union common values and fundamental rights, bringing together young people and decision makers at local, national and European level, as well as contributing to European Union common goals;
  • Mobility of staff in the field of sport: staff of sport organisations, primarily in grassroots sports, are provided the opportunity to improve their competences and qualifications and acquire new skills through learning mobilities and spending a period of time abroad, thus contributing to the capacity-building and development of sport organisations. This action supports the professional development of coaches, and other staff (both paid staff and volunteers) in grassroots sport. Staff in non-grassroots sport, including those engaged in dual sport and non-sport careers, can also enhance the learning impact and knowledge transfer for grassroots sport staff and organisations. Learning mobility opportunities for staff in non-grassroots sport may be supported where the participation of such staff can benefit grassroots sport.
  • DiscoverEU: the action offers 18-year-olds the opportunity to have a short-term individual or group travel experience throughout Europe. As an informal learning activity, DiscoverEU aims at fostering the sense of belonging to the European Union of the participants and allow them to explore its cultural diversity. It also seeks to equip young people with skills and competences of value to their future lives, as well as inspire them to embrace sustainable travel in particular and environmental conscience in general. DiscoverEU includes a general action, where the young people can apply directly on the European Youth Portal as well as an inclusion action. The DiscoverEU Inclusion Action targets young people with fewer opportunities to facilitate their participation in DiscoverEU on equal footing with their peers.
  • The programme offers language learning opportunities to participants carrying out a mobility activity abroad. This support will mainly be offered via the Erasmus+ Online Language Support (OLS) tool, adapted as necessary to individual sectors, as e-learning offers advantages for language learning in terms of access and flexibility. In particular cases, that is, when online learning is not the best tool to reach the target group, additional forms of language support will be offered.
  • Virtual exchanges in higher education and youth: this action gives the opportunity to organise online people-to-people activities that promote intercultural dialogue and soft skills development between individuals from third countries not associated to the programme, EU Member States or third countries associated to the programme. They take place in small groups and are always moderated by a trained facilitator.

Key Action 2 – Cooperation among organisations and institutions

This Key Action supports:

Partnerships for Cooperation, including:

  • Cooperation Partnerships: The primary goal of Cooperation Partnerships is to allow organisations to increase the quality and relevance of their activities, to develop and reinforce their networks of partners, to increase their capacity to operate jointly at transnational level, boosting internationalisation of their activities, and through exchanging or developing new practices and methods as well as sharing and confronting ideas.
  • Small-scale Partnerships: This action aims to widen access to the programme for small-scale actors and individuals who are hard to reach in the fields of school education, adult education, vocational education and training, youth and sport. With lower grant amounts awarded to organisations, shorter duration and simpler administrative requirements compared to the Cooperation Partnerships, this action aims at reaching out to grassroots organisations, newcomers to the Programme and less experienced organisations, reducing entry barriers to the Programme for organisations with smaller organisational capacity.

Partnerships for Excellence, including:

  • European Universities: This action supports the emergence of bottom-up alliances of higher education institutions which will bring cross-border cooperation to the next level of ambition, through the development of joint long-term strategies for top-quality education, research and innovation, based on a common vision and shared values;
  • Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVE): This action supports a bottom-up approach to vocational excellence involving a wide range of local stakeholders enabling VET institutions to rapidly adapt skills provision to evolving economic and social needs. They operate in a given local context, creating skills ecosystems for innovation, regional development, and social inclusion, while working with CoVEs in other countries through international collaborative networks.  It provides opportunities for the initial training of young people as well as the continuing up-skilling and re-skilling of adults, through a flexible and timely offer of training that meets the needs of a dynamic labour market, including in the context of the green and digital transitions;
  • Erasmus+ Teachers Academies: The overall objective of this action is to create European partnerships of teacher education and training providers to set up Erasmus+ Teacher Academies that will develop a European and international outlook in teacher education. The Academies will embrace multilingualism and cultural diversity, develop teacher education in line with the EU’s priorities in education policy and contribute to the objectives of the European Education Area.
  • Erasmus Mundus Action: This action aims at fostering excellence and world-wide internationalisation of higher education institutions via study programmes – at master course level – jointly delivered and jointly recognised by higher education institutions established in Europe, and open to institutions in other countries of the world.

Partnerships for Innovation, including:

  • Alliances for Innovation: This action aims at fostering strategic cooperation between key players in higher education and vocational education and training, business and research – the "knowledge triangle" – to foster innovation and modernisation of education and training systems in identifying and supplying the right set of skills, knowledge and competences to match the future labour market demand in sectors and fields that are strategic for Europe's sustainable growth and competitiveness;
  • Forward-looking projects: This action aims to foster innovation, creativity and participation, as well as social entrepreneurship in different fields of education and training. It will support forward-looking ideas based around key European priorities, and that have the potential of becoming mainstreamed and giving input for improving education and training systems, as well as to bring a substantial innovative effect in terms of methods and practices to all types of learning and active participation settings for Europe's social cohesion.

Capacity Building projects including

  • Capacity Building projects in the field of higher education: This action supports international cooperation projects based on multilateral partnerships between organisations active in the higher education field in EU Member States or third countries associated to the programme and third countries not associated to the programme. They aim to support the relevance, quality, modernisation and accessibility and of higher education in third countries not associated to the programme as a driver of sustainable socio-economic development.
  • Capacity Building projects in the field of vocational education and training: This action in the field of Vocational Education and Training supports international cooperation projects based on multilateral partnerships between organisations active in the field of VET in EU Member States, third countries associated to the programme and third countries not associated to the programme. They aim to support the relevance, accessibility, and responsiveness of VET institutions and systems in third countries not associated to the programme, as a driver of sustainable socio-economic development.
  • Capacity Building projects in the field of youth: this action supports cooperation and exchange in the field of youth between organisations in EU Member States, third countries associated to the programme and third countries not associated to the Programme, and covers non-formal learning activities, with a focus on raising the capacity of organisations working with young people outside formal learning, while ensuring the active participation of young people.
  • Capacity Building projects in the field of sport: The action will support international cooperation projects based on multilateral partnerships between organisations active in the field of sport in EU Member States, third countries associated to the programme and third countries not associated to the programme. They aim to support sport activities and policies in third countries not associated to the programme as a vehicle to promote values as well as an educational tool to promote the personal and social development of individuals and build more cohesive communities.

Not-for-profit sport events: This action will support the preparation, organisation and follow up of not-for-profit sport events, organised either in one single country or in several countries by not-for-profit organisations or public bodies active in the field of sport. These events will aim at increasing the visibility of the Erasmus+ sport actions as well as raise awareness on the role of sport in promoting social inclusion, equal opportunities and health-enhancing physical activities.

Online platforms such as European School Education Platform (including eTwinning) the Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe (EPALE), and the European Youth Portal will offer virtual collaboration spaces, partner-finding databases, communities of practice and other online services for teachers, trainers, youth workers, policy makers and other practitioners, as well as for pupils, young people and adult learners in Europe and beyond.

Key action 3 – Support to policy development and cooperation

This Key Action supports:

The European Youth Together action, targeting both youth organisations at grass root level and larger organisations and supporting partnerships across borders. Activities under this action should contribute to widening the outreach towards young people to ensure a diversity of voices, and reach a diverse range of young people within and beyond youth organisations, including youth with fewer opportunities. They should involve a variety of traditional and digital channels and facilitate the development of partnerships and networks, enabling participation and access for grassroots NGOs and youth movements.

In addition, this Key Action covers:

  • Actions aimed at preparing and supporting the implementation of the EU policy agenda on education, training, youth and sport, including sectoral agendas for higher education, vocational education and training, schools and adult learning, and in particular by facilitating the governance and functioning of the Open Methods of Coordination.
  • Carrying out European policy experimentations, led by high-level public authorities and involving field trials on policy measures in several countries, based on sound evaluation methods. In line with the EU Youth Strategy, a financial support will also be provided to the structures animating the National Working Groups designated by each national authority in the frame of the EU Youth Dialogue at national level.

  • Actions aimed at gathering evidence and knowledge about education, training, youth and sport systems and policies at national and European level, with a view to facilitate reasoned policy-making. Evidence gathering and analysis will be undertaken through EU-wide or international surveys and studies as well as thematic and country-specific expertise.

  • Actions which facilitate transparency and recognition of skills and qualifications, as well as the transfer of credits, to foster quality assurance, support validation of non-formal and informal learning, skills management and guidance. This area will also include the support to national and European-level bodies or networks that facilitate cross-European exchanges as well as the development of flexible learning pathways between different fields of education, training and youth and across formal, non-formal and informal learning settings.

Actions that foster policy dialogue with stakeholders within and outside the European Union, through, for example, conferences, events and other activities involving policy makers, practitioners and other stakeholders in the fields of education, training, youth and sport, to raise awareness about the relevant European policy agendas and to promote Europe as an excellent study and research destination

  • Cooperation with international organisations with highly recognised expertise and analytical capacity (such as the OECD and the Council of Europe) to strengthen the impact and added value of policies in the fields of education, training, youth and sport;

Jean Monnet Actions

The Jean Monnet Actions support:

  • Jean Monnet Action in the field of Higher Education: This action supports Higher Education Institutions inside and outside Europe in promoting teaching and research on European integration and promoting policy debate and exchanges involving the academic world and policy-makers on Union policy priorities. The following sub-actions are supported: Jean Monnet Modules: short teaching programmes in one or more discipline of European Union studies; Jean Monnet Chairs: longer teaching posts with a specialisation in European Union studies for individual university professors, Jean Monnet Centres of Excellence: focal points gathering knowledge of high-level experts in various disciplines of European studies, as well as developing transnational activities and structural links with academic institutions in other countries.

  • Jean Monnet Action in other fields of education and training: This action promotes knowledge on the European Union in schools and vocational education and training (VET) institutes in the EU Member States and third countries associated with the Programme. It aims to offer opportunities to education providers to develop and deliver content to learners, to teacher training providers to support teachers with methodologies and updated knowledge on European Union issues and to promote debate and exchanges between school and VET representatives and stakeholders on learning about European Union subjects. The following sub-actions are supported: Teacher Training: design and offer structured training proposals on EU subjects to teachers; Learning EU Initiative: to promote a better understanding, in general education and vocational training (ISCED 1 – 4).

  • Jean Monnet policy debate: Jean Monnet Networks in Higher Education, in line with a specific theme linked to a Commission priority, will collect, share and discuss among partners, research findings, content of courses and experiences, products (studies, articles, content of courses, etc.). Networks for other fields of education and training, exchange of good practices and experience co-teaching within a group of countries.

  • Support to designated institutions: The action supports institutions pursuing an aim of European interest, providing to the Union, its Member States and its citizens with high quality services in specific priority subject areas. The main activities and outreach of these institutions involve research, including collection of data and their analysis to prepare future policies, teaching in situ and online for future staff of the international organisations and for civil servants in particular in juridical and management areas, organising events on priority issues for the Union and disseminating specific results and general information for the broad public.