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Dear Minister Shahini,
I am very happy to host here today 14 Albanian students who have been awarded an Erasmus + scholarship in the Universities of 8 EU Member States.
You will follow the path of the 3500 Albanian students and academic staff that in the last four years have participated in mobility programmes under Erasmus +.
The Erasmus programme is one of the most successful initiatives undertaken by the European Union. It is easy to say that its success is linked to the fact that the programme shows more concretely than any other the benefits of European integration.
Erasmus enables to experience first-hand what it feels to be European. It builds bridges between the Member States and countries like Albania. It connects peoples and cultures, and helps in sharing values: in a few words, the essence of the EU ideals.
As you know, the EU is now working on the new Erasmus + Programme, which aims at bringing together the European Union's actions to support higher education with those that support education that develops practical skills – so-called vocational education.
The new programme offers great opportunities for higher and vocational education institutions, staff, researchers and students – that can make a difference in your careers and personal lives, but also to the future of Albania.
The Commission has put forward a very ambitious proposal for the future Erasmus programme, including more than doubling its budget from EUR 14.7 million to EUR 30 million. The proposal aims to reach 12 million young people over seven years (2021-27).
The future Erasmus + programme will be a major tool of the new EU Youth Strategy, which aims inter alia at reaching greater coherence between the priorities under youth policy and the implementation of Erasmus.
The European Union has also created a successful European Solidarity Corps, through which youngsters, including Albanians, can volunteer in their own country or abroad.
The Albanian youth of today are the EU citizens of tomorrow. In a country where 40% of the population is younger than 30 years old, they will be the ones to bring the country forward.
Education is at the very heart of this future and without competent teachers and ethical education systems, our societies cannot progress.
In the words of Franklin Roosevelt, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” Investing in education is vital in promoting our shared European values of democracy, freedom, human dignity and respect. Education is more than employability. It provides the values which enable us to live and grow together.
The young people of Albania deserve those same rights and opportunities as their friends in the EU, and our collective aim should be to make this happen as soon as possible.
Let me now turn back to you!
Today is the day to wish you all the greatest success in your studies! You will be the ambassadors of Albania across Europe! You will have the important task to share the Albanian culture amongst your fellow colleagues and friends.
And once you are back, we expect that you will promote the EU and your experience in Albania, becoming yourselves part of the European integration process of Albania!
Urime dhe suksese!