On Thursday 10 December 2020, Parliamentary Secretary for EU funds, Hon. Dr Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi opened EUPA’s End of Year Conference announcing the success of both the Erasmus+ and ESC funds that were distributed throughout the past 2014-2020 programming period.
Hon Zrinzo Azzopardi stated that the European Commission had launched this past Erasmus+ programming period aiming to unite the sectors of schools, vocational education and training, higher education, adult education, and youth. This programming period allowed for the creation of innovative projects which have positively influenced and revolutionised the education sector thanks to an injection of 14,7 million Euro.
Hon Zrinzo Azzopardi also highlighted the benefits that such projects have on the personal and professional development of young people, deeming such projects an important investment in the country’s future. In view of this, Chief Executive Officer and National Coordinator of the Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps Programme, Mr Joseph Schembri stated that one of the biggest aims of the National Agency is to continue reaching out to potential beneficiaries and increase the numbers of granted projects. He feels that this objective is being reached due to the increase in the number of submitted applications and granted projects. Indeed, since 2014, 714 projects with a grand total exceeding €55 million was awarded.
Mr Joseph Schembri continued with an address to the public regarding the Agencies past achievements and future goals. He stated that EUPA had and still has the challenge to inform and share information on these opportunities, in order to bridge the gap between the organisation and funding. “We set out in ensuring that the final outcome of every project left and still leaves a positive long term impact on the educational and youth sectors”.
Joseph Schembri also highlighted that the agency has continuously aimed at not only offering these grants but always aims at being the initiator of several projects, by introducing several organisations who were new to the concept of EU funding to such programmes.
Both Hon. Zrinzo Azzopardi and Joseph Schembri speeches concluded with their belief that the Erasmus+ programme was a key tool in tackling several issues and pressing agendas that are faced by society. Such issues include social inclusion, digitalisation, bridging the education and workplace gap, youth societal participation and the acquisition of tansversal skills.
Despite the current circumstances, the year 2020 can be marked as the most successful year yet. 106 projects were awarded totalling to €9.5 million. Mr Schembri believes “that these projects are leaving individuals with an unmeasurable positive impact. This impact can be visualised today”
Reference was also made to Covid-19 and its unprecedented affects. Mr Schembri stated that EUPA was able to be flexible and continue provide assistance to its beneficiaries.
In 2018, EUPA has also opened its horizons to the European Solidarity Corps programme, an initiative that aims to develop all youth under 30 into responsible and active citizens, through several volunteering opportunities and apprenticeships.
In January 2021, the European Commission will be releasing a new set of rules and regulations which will form the next seven years of Erasmus+ and ESC funding. The new programme aims to be an evolution of the current successful programming period, with its primary aim being gaining more participants and be more inclusive.
Following the Parliamentary Secretary and Chief Executive Officer address, respective sector managers presented some statistics (refer to attached artworks) on the past programming period whilst giving spotlight to six past best practice projects. These were presented by their respective project leaders. These were:
Mario Borg & Karl Mifsud – Education Hub Msida – Breaking the Vicious Circle
Prof Valdramidis – University of Malta – Q-Safe
Ing Louis Aquilina, Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology
Janet Mifsud, Caritas Malta Epilepsy Association; Facilitating Inclusion in Epilepsy: a pictorial guide
Abraham Azzopardi, Prisms, F.E.E.L. Fearless, Emotional and Engaged Leaders;
Mark Calleja, Karl Vella Foundation, Volunteering with KVF.
Each best practice beneficiary shared their respective project whilst explained its positive community outcome. Both Hon. Zrinzo Azzopardi and Mr Schembri expressed a congratulatory address to all for completing their respective projects.
Later, Mark Vella, Language Officer from the European Commission representation in Malta, joined via the conferencing software Zoom, to discuss the next programming period. He outlined the several challenges that were faced thoughout the current programming period and how the new programming period, which stretches from 2021 to 2027 will aim to overcome them. Furthermore, he attempted to describe that the European Commission is not attempting to re-invent the programme but add to the current already successful one. One main improvement will be the substantial increase in funding that will be available to all EU and partner states.
Following Mr Vella’s address, Janelle Camilleri, acting programme coordinator and communications manager, took the floor to explain what is to be expected in the new Erasmus Programme to be launched in January 2021. The new programme will continue building on the achievements of the past programme but will also introduce new opportunities for all, as well as a substantial increase in funding.
Mr Schembri concluded the conference expressing gratitude to all applicants and beneficiaries and encouraged all potential applicants to continue working on their project ideas and make use of such funding opportunities.
Do you have a project idea? Contact EUPA for assistance on firstname.lastname@example.org or 25586132.