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EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF CULTURE LAUNCHED IN RIGA

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, is visiting Rīga in Latviasince January 18th to take part in the 2014 European Capital of Culture’s opening events, as well as to launch Erasmus+, the EU’s new funding programme for education, training, youth and sport, in the country.

Riga

Riga

On Saturday morning, the Commissioner  met Dace Melbārde, the country’s Minister for Culture, and Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis, Minister for Education and Science; afterwards, she took part in the ‘Path of Light – Chain of Book Lovers’, in which members of the public will pass books from the old building of the Latvian National Library to the Castle of Light, where the Commissioner will participate in a press briefing (13.30).

In the afternoon, she visited the Central Market where events linked to the European Capital of Culture were held all day. In the evening, the Commissioner gave  a speech at Arena Riga, ahead of the European Capital’s opening concert, ‘Rīga dimd’ (Riga Resounds). On Sunday, Commissioner Vassiliou participated in more cultural events in Rīga and visit Sigulda, its partner town.

“The European Capital of Culture has been a fantastic success for almost 30 years: the title is a unique opportunity to make the most of a city’s cultural assets and boost its long-term development. The title is important for tourism, jobs and regeneration; I’m sure Rīga will have a very successful year,” said Commissioner Vassiliou.

Umeå, in the northern part of Sweden, shares the title of European Capital of Culture with Riga this year; it launches its programme in two weeks’ time.

This  Monday, Commissioner Vassiliou will meet representatives of the Employers’ Confederation of Latvia and take part in the Latvian national launch of Erasmus+. With a budget of €14.7 billion for the next seven years, 40% more than under the previous programmes, Erasmus+ will provide opportunities for over 4 million Europeans to study, train, gain work experience and volunteer abroad in 2014-2020. More than 50 000 Latvians are expected to benefit from Erasmus+, which builds on the success of the Erasmus student exchange scheme and other training and youth programmes.

“The international experience gained through Erasmus+ will boost people’s skills, personal development and employability. We also will invest more to improve partnerships between education and employers to ensure that young people are equipped with the skills which are needed in the labour market today and in the future,” added Commissioner Vassiliou.

Latvia will receive €15 million in 2014 from Erasmus+, nearly 11% more than it received in 2013 from the Lifelong Learning and Youth in Action Programmes. Its funding from the programme will increase each year up to 2020. Latvia can also benefit further from grants under the programme’s Jean Monnet action for European integration studies in higher education and for transnational sports projects.

Between 2007 and 2013, around 35 000 Latvian students, young people and education, training and youth staff received funding from the EU’s Lifelong Learning and Youth in Action programmes.

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