Learning and Studying in the EU

The free movement of people is one of the fundamental freedoms that form the pillars of the European Union. And yet, at 3.1% mobility is still relatively low on the European labour market. Consequently, measures are taken on the European level that are aimed at increasing mobility. The prime target group in these endeavours is young people who tend to be more flexible and prepared to study or work abroad. Against the background of a more pronounced international character and improved global standards in education and research, the focus in these efforts is on life-long learning catering to all age groups and lines of education – from apprenticeships to basic studies and scientific research. More extensive international networking calls for continuous exchange. Targeted promotion programmes for trans-national studies, work and research are intended to secure a leading position in science and business for Europe for the long term and further enhance the competitiveness of the European Union.


Erasmus+ is the new, integrated European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport aimed at improving employability, upgrading qualifications, modernising training and education, and improving job opportunities for young people. The European Union is stepping up its spending levels in these areas and increased the budget compared to the past financial period by 40% to reach € 14.7 billion for the period 2014-2020. Additionally, approximately € 1.68 million has been made available for cooperation with partner countries. In 2014, Austria received funding in the amount of approximately € 25.8 million under the ERASMUS + programme.

ERASMUS+ combines all previous EU programmes in the fields of general and vocational training and youth. The programme covers life-long learning, school and university education, vocational training and adult education, and the targeted promotion of youth and sports. Along with acquiring pertinent technical know-how and language skills, intercultural skills and transcultural team work are to be encouraged as well. The focus is mainly on mobility and cross-border cooperation to close the gap between education and the demands of the labour market.

The major part (77.5%) of the total ERASMUS+ budget is earmarked for education (€ 11.45 billion). Concrete tools in this area include subsidies for increased mobility, strategic partnerships and thematic initiatives in the school, university and vocational training sectors. € 1.4 billion are dedicated to youth – this area breaks down to three major fields covering numerous activities: European Volunteer Service, youth exchange, mobility for experts in youth work, transnational youth initiatives, capacity building, and structured dialogue with stakeholders of youth policy. The focus in sports (€ 265 million funding) is on sports and society, economic dimensions, and integrity of sport.

Participating countries

All EU member states, FYROM (Macedonia), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. Participation of the following states is subject to specific conditions and action: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Russia.

Horizon 2020

HORIZON 2020 is the new EU Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development for the period 2014 to 2020. The programme provides some € 80 billion for research and innovation, which makes HORIZON 2020 the world's biggest transnational programme for research and innovation. The funding and promotion schemes range from fundamental research to innovative product development. The prime target groups of the Programme are mainly small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) and the main objective of the Programme is the cooperation between science and the economy. Compared to the previous programme, HORIZON 2020 pursues a more innovation-oriented and integrated approach. At the same time, national research spending is to be increased to 3% of the GNP by 2020.

The main objectives of HORIZON 2020 include excellence in research, competitive research and business locations, a comprehensive provision of innovative products and services, as well as a simplified regulatory framework. The Programme is based on the following three pillars:

  • Excellent science – directed at strengthening the scientific basis, pioneering research and excellence in research. Europe is to support the best talents in the field of research and offer them easier access to research institutions.
  • Market leadership/industrial leadership – aiming at stimulating innovative achievements in European industries and SMEs through investment in key enabling technologies and through creating more impetus for private investors.
  • Societal challenges – health/demographic change; food security and reliability; sustainable farming and forestry; safe, clean and efficient energy; smart, green and integrated transport; climate protection/environment; Europe in a changing world; securing safe societies by protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens.

Austria received funding in the amount of € 1 billion under the past research framework programme 2007-13; as many as 3,180 participants were involved in 2,291 projects. The recovery quota is thus 125% – measured by the Austrian contribution to the EU budget – and a major success of Austrian science and research.