It was going to be hard to sell negotiations that cut infrastructure but maintained fat subsidies to farmers as forward-looking and expansionary, so EU leaders agreed to increase the amount of money allocated for education and training, and for tackling youth unemployment.
At their post-summit press conference, both Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, and José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, emphasised the importance of the money allocated for those education and training programmes under the working title Erasmus For All. Vassiliou said afterwards that there would be a 50% increase on current levels, but she was hoping that MEPs – “our friends in the Parliament” – would hold out for even more.
But the commissioner and her friends do not agree on everything. Doris Pack, who chairs the Parliament's education committee, has been trying to put her own stamp on the Commission's effort to brand all the programmes as Erasmus For All, proposing instead the title “Yes! Europe”.
However, everything is going Vassiliou's way. It seems that British Prime Minister David Cameron's promise to offer the British electorate a referendum on EU membership has rendered “Yes! Europe” an impossibility. To have such a slogan backed by millions of euros would open up any referendum campaign to legal challenge. Will Pack retreat gracefully? It's not in her character, so perhaps that should be Erasmus For The Moment.