Publié par : Malika Benarab-Attou | 9 décembre 2013

Les prêts étudiants doivent-ils être garantis par l’UE ?

debating europe

Interview (en anglais) de la plateforme « Debating Europe« , le 9 décembre 2013

Rok, chair of the European Students’ Union, wanted to know whether it was really a good idea for the EU to guarantee student loans, seeing as loan defaults were responsible for the 2008 global financial crisis. Under the new Erasmus + programme, the European Central Bank will guarantee student loans for postgraduates doing their entire Masters degree in a different EU member state. This guarantee is capped at up to €12,000 for one year (or €18,000 for two years).

To get a reaction, we spoke to Malika Benarab-Attou, a Green MEP, who said her party opposed the scheme but was unable to stop it because they don’t have a majority in the European Parliament:

I am rapporteur on Erasmus + for the European Greens, and both me and my party are against putting the burden of these loans on the shoulders of students even before their have begun their professional careers. I see two risks: first, as I said, students will be burdened with debt before their careers have even begun. The second problem is that these loan guarantees will destroy a valuable system that is already in place, that is the scholarship system, which is better for all students and especially for those with lower incomes. So, my party couldn’t stop these changes to the Erasmus programme because we don’t have a majority in the European Parliament. However, our resistance did make it possible for us to decrease the amount of money allocated by the EU for this loan guarantee programme.“

If the Greens gain seats in 2014 (and they are doing quite well in our Debating Europe Vote 2014), could they be even more active on this front?

Next, we had a question sent in by Fernando, Vice-Chair of the ESU, asking what else the EU can do to support education systems in Europe apart from promoting greater mobility through the Erasmus programme.

To get a response, we spoke to Doris Pack, a German Christian Democrat MEP with the Centre-Right EPP group in the European Parliament. As the Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education in the European Parliament, what did she have to say?

The problem, as Fernando should know, is that the European Union – i.e. the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission – can only work under the Damocles sword of subsidiarity. Which means everything that concerns, for example, a university in Salamanca or Madrid is up to the regional or national authorities. We cannot intervene in any of these things.

Instead, the national governments started with something called the ‘Bologna process’ twelve years ago. It did not involve the European Parliament, nor the European Commission, but was rather government ministers who agreed that the higher education area should be a little more harmonised.

On the other hand, the EU’s involvement is currently largely restricted to issues of mobility. Even Erasmus, which is a good thing, has operated on a very small budget. But, with the new Erasmus+ programme that was recently agreed, we will have the possibility at least to have loans for those doing a Masters in another country guaranteed by the EU budget, and repaid in a social way. So, I think this is a good thing, because we have to help students to have a possibility to study abroad even if they are not financially backed by their families. »

Consultez le site de Debating Europe.

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