On 31 January 2018, Commission published the mid-term evaluation of the Erasmus+ programme, which gives as an overall very positive view on the EU’s flagship programme for education, training, youth and sport for 2014-2020. The programme has been highly beneficial to its participants, not only as facilitating their employment, but also as promoting the feeling of being an EU citizen. Furthermore, Erasmus+ is more coherent, relevant and partly more efficient and simpler than its predecessors. According to the evaluation, Erasmus+ has achieved or exceeded most of the indicators, which were set in the legal basis. It also mentions that demand for funding exceeds the current budget and that the evaluation confirms that the programme has “capacity to absorb an overall budget increase in the next Multiannual Financial Framework”.
However, the evaluation also found some room for improvement, one being the need to do more to reach out to the more vulnerable in society and to facilitate the participation of smaller organisations. It also points out the need to reduce the recommended priorities and better focus on certain areas, as well as highlighting that the future programme should continue to implement the EU’s political priorities while keeping certain flexibility. It is also mentioned that the future programme should reduce administrative burden by simplifying application and reporting procedures, thus improving the efficiency of the new programme.
Sport as first time part of the current programme.
The evaluation highlights that sport is a recent programme and for instance, systemic impact of sport actions cannot be evaluated yet. The evaluation states that coherence can be improved in relation to sport and that the Commission will increase the focus especially on social inclusion in sport, and reduce overlap with youth activities. It is also mentioned in the evaluation that the “sport organisations take part in other sectors of the programme even more than in their own strand of Erasmus+”. EOC EU Office finds this statement surprising and wonders if the evaluation has defined as sport organisations also organisations outside of organised sport.
The evaluation also mentions that the Erasmus+ sport programme has an internationalisation effect especially concerning grassroots sport, where sport organisations have less international opportunities compared to elite and competitive sport, which are by nature international. According to the evaluation, the programme has not yet reached its potential in the internationalisation of grassroots sport and some alignment of sport actions with EU policies is needed in future. Some respondents at national level felt that it is sometimes difficult to fit the objectives of the programme, which are in line with the EU policies, to the local perspectives.
Regarding the beneficiaries of the sport part, the evaluation mentions that education institutions are successfully applying sport projects with education and youth links. Consequently, this reduces the participation of pure sport organisations in the sport activities.
Overall, the evaluation gives some good recommendations regarding the future funding programme. However, it is also important that some of the aspects that the evaluation proposes are clarified. EOC EU Office will have post-2020 programmes, and especially the future sport programme, as a priority area for its work in 2018, and it will closely follow and influence the processes.