Since the start of the Juncker Commission, the annual Work Programmes have been focused on a limited number of key initiatives, where EU added value is clear. With all legislative proposals already tabled to deliver on the ten priorities of the Juncker Commission, the priority for the year ahead will be to turn them into legislation and then to implement them effectively.
The Council adopted conclusions on moving towards a vision of a European Education Area (EEA) . The conclusions highlight the crucial role of education and culture in bringing Europeans together and for the future of the EU. The conclusions invite member states to cooperate and to continue reflecting on a shared vision of an EEA, including its possible goals, objectives and scope, and its links with the post-2020 strategic framework for cooperation in education and training. Special emphasis is placed on: Erasmus +, digital skills and education, higher education, high quality and inclusive education, involvement of new stakeholders including disadvantaged groups, language learning and the recognition of qualifications.
The Council adopted its conclusions on the same day that the European Commission adopted a new package of measures aiming to bolster the implementation of the EEA by 2025.
The new initiatives aim to enhance learning mobility and educational opportunities in the EU, empower young people, in particular by encouraging them to participate in civic and democratic life, and harness the potential of culture for social progress and economic growth in Europe.
More attention needs to be devoted to education, training, youth and culture at the EU level to enable young people to reach their full potential. Investing in skills, competences and knowledge drives innovation, competitiveness and resilience. The initiatives presented today will help give young people of all backgrounds more promising prospects and help them take a more active role in society.
The recommendation recognises the need to promote a European dimension of teaching in order to increase understanding of the common European heritage and awareness of the cultural and social diversity of the EU and its member states. The recommendation also highlights the importance of inclusive education in all learning environments, including all levels and types of education and training in a lifelong perspective.
The Education Council adopted a recommendation on key competences for lifelong learning, the aim of which is to update the current recommendation from 2006 and take account of changes such as digitisation and constantly evolving labour markets.
Following Göteborg, the European Commission has agreed on new initiatives to improve key competences and digital skills of European citizens, to promote common values and pupils' awareness of the functioning of the European Union.
The new proposals also fed into the first European Education Summit which Commissioner Navracsics hosted in Brussels on 25 January with the theme of ‘Laying the foundations of the European Education Area: for an innovative, inclusive and values based education’.
The three initiatives proposed by the Commission are:
- A Council Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning
- A Digital Education Action Plan
- A Council Recommendation on common values, inclusive education and the European dimension of teaching
The Council adopted conclusions on a renewed agenda for higher education. The overall aim is to modernize higher education so that it keeps pace with the rapidly evolving environment.
It also adopted conclusions on school development and excellent teaching. The conclusions highlight the importance of ensuring high-quality and inclusive education for all, empowering teachers and school leaders, and shifting towards more effective, equitable and efficient governance.
The Council adopted a recommendation for tracking graduates as a way of encouraging and supporting member states in their efforts to improve the quality and availability of information on what graduates do after leaving higher education or vocational education and training.
The conclusions and recommendation follow the Commission communications of 30 May 2017 on school development and excellent teaching, and on a renewed EU agenda for higher education.
On 17 November 2017, the European Commission has set out its vision for how we can create a European Education Area by 2025. The Communication is intended as a contribution at the meeting of 17 November 2017 in Gothenburg, where European leaders met to discuss the future role of education and culture in strengthening a shared European identity. This informal meeting of heads of state and government took place in light of the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus programme and in the framework of the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth.
The Commission believes that it is in the shared interest of all Member States to harness the full potential of education and culture as drivers for job creation, economic growth and social fairness as well as a means to experience European identity in all its diversity.
The primary responsibility for education and culture policies lies with the Member States, at national, regional and local levels. However, the European Union has played an important complementary role over the years. This is particularly true when it comes to cross-border activities. Over the past decade, the European Union has also developed a series of ‘soft policy’ tools to help Member States in the design of national education policies. Since 2000, Member States have been cooperating under the ‘Framework for European cooperation in education and training’ (ET 2020) which set common objectives and benchmarks. The Commission believes it is now time to build on these foundations and greatly step up our ambition.
With its international comparison and country analysis, the Education and Training Monitor fuels the debate on priority themes for education and training and informs national education reform debates.
Endorsed by government representatives from all EU member states, the Monitor charts EU and the country progress using six targets:
to reduce the early leavers from education and training below 10%
to reach 40% tertiary educational attainment among 30 to 34-year-olds
to reach the 95% participation in early childhood education and care
to reduce the underachievement in reading, maths and science below 15%
to reach the employment rate of recent graduates of 82%
to reach 15% adult participation in learning
In the field of education and training, the Presidency focuses on the implementation of the New Skills Agenda, the modernization of Higher Education, and the initiative of graduates’ tracking.