“EU runs out of funding for Erasmus grants,” writes*La Vanguardia*. Brussels is said to have called on contributions from member states to save the successful student exchange programme, as well as other projects such as the European Social Fund, European Structural Funds and research programmes, imbursements for which are made in the final months of the year. The Barcelona daily notes that Brussels —
... has defended the symbolic cause of Erasmus in its battle with EU capitals and MEPs, drawing their attention to the problems implied by past and future cuts, especially in those countries with economic problems such as Spain, whose universities are the first for incoming EU students on grants.
Quoted by EUbusiness.com, Alain Lamassoure, head of the European Parliament budget committee, has warned that —
... the European Social Fund is bankrupt and cannot refund member states. Next week it will be Erasmus, the student programme; at the end of the month, the Research and Innovation Fund.
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Lamassoure estimates the deficits at €10 billion, which makes it likely in the coming weeks that Budget Comissioner Janusz Lewandowski will ask member states for “several billion euros” extra to close the gap, reports Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.
Although the European Commission has not confirmed the figures given by Lamassoure, La Vanguardia announces that a “substantial” modification to the budget will be passed on October 23 to avoid a "cessation of payments". Meanwhile, the Commission has already provided €420 million to pay the most urgent bills. According to Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, it is highly unlikely that member states will assign the extra funds, as the problems faced by EU social programmes are caused by austerity measures running at 4 billion euros this year, introduced by the net contributors to the EU budget.