On 2-3 March 1995, LEONARDO DA VINCI, the European programme in support of vocational training, was officially launched in Tours, France, at the initiative of the French Presidency and with the support of the European Commission, represented by Mrs. Edith Cresson, Commissioner responsible for research, education and training. Some 500 people, representing the operators and decision-makers of the Member States who will be running the programme for the next five years, attended the launch. The Council of Ministers has allocated a minimum of ECU 620 million for the period 1995-1999 to LEONARDO DA VINCI to bring new life to Community vocational training projects, such as COMETT, PETRA, LINGUA and FORCE. LEONARDO DA VINCI is designed for students, young people following basic training courses, and workers undergoing continuing training. It has four objectives: - To improve the quality of vocational training in Europe; - To encourage exchanges and placements; - To achieve a better understanding of vocational training, i.e. how it works and what the real needs are; - To encourage adaptation to the information society. These are examined in more detail below. - Improving the quality of vocational training in Europe: The programme will support a series of transnational projects, i.e. involving participants from various Member States who have something to contribute to the quality of training. This may involve determining and setting up common training methods. Schools or vocational training centres in various Member States may, for example, get together with one or more companies to establish a joint apprenticeship scheme in a given trade and send their students on suitable placements in the partner companies. Businesses in the same trade or branches of the same group may want to retrain their employees in new computer-assisted production technologies and organize distance training courses together, in partnership with the public authorities. Similarly, LEONARDO DA VINCI will support training courses for instructors and projects designed to pinpoint qualification needs more accurately or to develop language-learning techniques using new information technology. - Encouraging exchanges and placements: LEONARDO DA VINCI will support placement and exchange programmes to enable various people - young people undergoing basic training, young university students - to do part of their training in a centre or company in another Member State and to help instructors and training specialists improve the quality of their work through exchanges. Exchanges to develop language learning will also have a high priority. - Better understanding of vocational training: LEONARDO DA VINCI will support surveys and analyses at Community level, data exchange and the dissemination of information on innovatory measures and on vocational training. - Encouraging adaptation to the new information society: Finally, as the acquisition of new information technologies is likely, within a few years, to revolutionize the way we live and work, this will be one of the main priorities of the programme. Those interested in obtaining financial support under LEONARDO DA VINCI must fulfil certain conditions. The projects must, in the first place, correspond to the objectives and priorities of the programme. There will be no question, for example, of financing the sort of inter-university exchanges which should come under the SOCRATES programme. The second condition is that they must be transnational, i.e. each project must involve at least two Member States or other participating countries (LEONARDO DA VINCI will, in fact, be open to the associate countries of Central and Eastern Europe and to Cyprus and Malta). LEONARDO DA VINCI will also give preference to projects involving different categories of partners: businesses/public authorities/management and labour; training organizations/businesses/universities; local communities/schools, etc. Preference will also be given to measures which cover several areas of training and which will thus make the transfer of innovatory measures easier. Finally, particular priority will be given to actions designed to anticipate needs more accurately and to apply innovatory measures as broadly as possible. Firstly, the businesses concerned must set up projects according to the above criteria. Assistance with this will be provided in their own country. The application should then be sent to the national body responsible, which will preselect projects and report on their contribution to the national vocational training system. The Commission, together with the Member States and bearing in mind the opinion of the LEONARDO DA VINCI programme committee, will draw up a list of projects recommended for financing. The amount of finance will vary according to the project. One thing is certain: the total may not exceed ECU 100,000 per project per year or ECU 5,000 per person per placement programme. After publication at the end of March of the vademecum (the document presenting details of the programme for interested parties), the first invitations to tender will be issued by the Commission in April. The LEONARDO DA VINCI Committee will have a meeting in September to give its opinion on the projects preselected in the Member States. The Commission will then make its recommendations.