European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou calls for closer cooperation between EU and Qatar in education and culture

Brussels, Belgium, 25-10-2013 — /EuropaWire/ — The European Union should work more closely with Qatar and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in areas of common interest such as education and training, new skills for a changing world and strengthened cultural ties to enhance understanding between their peoples. This is the message that Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will deliver at the 2013 World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) in Doha, Qatar, on 29 October. During her three-day visit, the Commissioner will meet Sheikh Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani, chairman of WISE and President of Hamad Bin Khalifa University, and Dr Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, the Qatari Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage, to discuss shared challenges and opportunities for closer cooperation. The discussions will focus on the Commission’s new strategy for the internationalisation of higher education and the launch of the Erasmus+ and Creative Europe programmes, due to begin in January.

Commissioner Vassiliou said: “Europe must remain open to the world. It is through education and culture that different peoples begin to understand each other and develop closer relationships. The WISE Summit is an opportunity to debate some of the most urgent questions facing education around the world: how do we ensure wide and fair access? How can our schools prepare young people for the multiple demands of modern life? How should we respond to technological change? Can culture make a difference as a tool for ‘soft’ diplomacy? The Erasmus+ and Creative Europe programmes are more open to countries outside Europe than ever before and I look forward to more exchanges involving students, university staff and artists, and stronger partnerships between educational and cultural institutions in our two regions.”

Erasmus+, the new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport, will provide increased opportunities for cooperation and mobility between the EU and Qatar. In addition to around 2 million student exchanges within Europe, Erasmus+ will enable 135 000 students and staff to move between Europe and the rest of the world. This means, for instance, that Qatari or other GCC students and staff will be able to benefit from an Erasmus experience in Europe and European students and staff can apply for a grant to spend part of their studies or training in Qatar or other GCC countries.

This international experience helps young people to increase their employability by developing new skills and learning how to live and work alongside people of a different culture and language. The best-practice skills gained by staff through such exchanges have a systemic impact because all of their students benefit from the experience they have gained.

European universities will also be able to receive EU support to set up joint Master’s programmes involving Qatari higher education institutions and offer grants to students worldwide to participate in these.


Erasmus+, the EU new programme for education, training, youth and sport, will be launched in January 2014. It replaces the existing Lifelong Learning Programme (Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius, Grundtvig), Youth in Action, Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, Alfa, Edulink and the bilateral cooperation programme with industrialised countries.

The new programme is due to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council (Member State Ministers) before the end of this year. The total budget for Erasmus+ is envisaged to be nearly €15 billion – 40% higher than the EU’s existing mobility programmes. In total, Erasmus+ will provide grants for more than four million people – most aged under 25 – to spend part of their studies or training in another country. More than half of the expected number of beneficiaries will be higher education or vocational students and apprentices in the EU.

2014 also marks the start of the new Creative Europe programme which will continue to provide grants to support diversity and to enable companies and artists in the cultural and creative sectors to break into new markets. The MEDIA strand of the programme will continue to aid film development, training and distribution. Creative Europe will also include a new loan guarantee fund aimed at making it easier for the cultural and creative sectors to access loans.

More information

European Commission: Education and training

EU and Gulf Cooperation Council countries

Androulla Vassiliou’s website


Creative Europe

Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU

Contacts :

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58); Twitter: @DennisAbbott

Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67)


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