The youngest councillor in Angus has led a motion calling on the UK government to continue post-Brexit involvement in a Euro programme for young people which has pumped millions of pound into the district.
The Erasmus+ Programme started off in the 80s as a European student exchange initiative but has grown to include education, training, youth and sport schemes for young people across Europe and farther afield.
Monifieth and Sidlaws Liberal Democrat Ben Lawrie hailed its benefits at meeting of the full Angus Council in Forfar and received unanimous support for a motion which will see the authority’s chief executive write to the UK government to press for continuing involvement.
Mr Lawrie said: “Since 2014, Dundee & Angus College has received 1.5 million Euros of Erasmus funding for various projects and 11 Angus schools have received 70,000 Euros between them for language training.
“This council received 35,000 Euros in 2018 for the Youth Wellbeing for All Programme, and this is before you consider all of the individual young people who have had the benefit of an Erasmus exchange.”
Mr Lawrie highlighted the personal experience of student Hunor Deak, who said Erasmus had helped him carry out nature conservation and project management in Romania as well as a school exchange in Hamburg.
“In Romania, I worked with Operation Wallacea to preserve important nature habitats by studying birds, small mammals, butterflies and plants,” said Mr Deak.
“I looked at the work of local craftsmen and visited a property greatly helped by the foundation of Prince Charles. The Royal Family does great work in Transylvania protecting the habitats and traditional industries.”
Mr Lawrie told colleagues the current funding period had brought more than 2m Euros of support to Angus since 2014
He added: “Brexit shouldn’t be an obstacle to our continued participation of Erasmus. Lots of non-EU countries participate – Norway, Turkey, Serbia. All it takes is the political will.
“During the next Erasmus period of 2021-27, the programme is going to be bigger than ever, double the size of the last one with 30 billion Euros in the pot.
“Despite this, the UK Government is yet to give an unambiguous commitment to continuing our participation in the programme.
“That is why I have submitted this motion, to let the Government know the importance of this programme and the importance of our close relations with our European neighbours.”