On 31 May 2016, the Council for Education, Youth, Culture and Sports of the EU adopted conclusions on developing media literacy and critical thinking through education and training.
The conclusions stress the fundamental role of education and training in helping young people to become media-literate and responsible citizens of the future.
The conclusions are also a follow-up to the Paris declaration of March 2015 which highlights the key role that education has to play in promoting citizenship and the Union's fundamental values. Ministers agreed that one of the areas in need of strengthening was young people's ability to think critically and to exercise judgement so that they were able to grasp realities, to distinguish fact from opinion, and to resist all forms of indoctrination and hate speech.
The Netherlands holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from 1 January to 30 June 2016 and has presented, together with the Slovak and Maltese Presidencies that will follow, the Council's work programme for the period to June 2017.
The EU Presidency Trio states in its programme that ‘inclusive, smart and sustainable growth, jobs and competitiveness remain the top priority over the next 18 months.’
The conclusions take stock of the progress made so far, with a view to reviewing, consolidating and improving measures. According to 2014 data, 11.1 % of 18 to 24 year olds have left education and training without completing an upper secondary programme (around 4.4 million young people). Huge discrepancies remain within and between member states and the comprehensive strategies advocated in the 2011 Council Recommendation are still lacking in many countries.
This yearly report gives a picture of trends, improvements, challenges at all stages of education in the EU. It is the starting point for assessing EU countries’ performance as a basis for the yearly country reports in the framework of the European Semester.
In 2014, the Commission and Member States started a mid-term stocktaking exercise to assess progress made since 2012 and to help prepare the next priorities for cooperation in education and training at European level.
The challenges and priorities identified underpin the identification of the new priority areas and concrete issues for the further work up 2020.