DEQA-VET: European Education Policy

European Education Policy

A high level of education and training is indispensable to the development and success of the knowledge-based societies of Europe. For this reason, education and training are important elements of the Europe 2020 Strategy. Education and training also played an important role in the Lisbon Strategy up until 2010.

Although each EU country remains responsible for stipulating its own national educational policy, there are challenges which affect all member states. Over-ageing societies, insufficient competences on the part of workers and global competition all lend themselves to joint reactions, including within the educational sector, and mean that it makes sense for member states to learn from one another within this process. Member states therefore exchange information on advisable procedures and work together to set indicators and common European benchmarks in order to be able to review the respective progress made.

Following the adoption of the Lisbon Strategy, a new basis for policy cooperation was established in 2002 in the form of the “Education and Training 2010” work programme. This provides the foundations for all follow-up activities in education and training and stipulates a new work procedure for the educational cooperation taking place between the EU member states – the so-called “open coordination method”.

In May 2009, continuation of the successful cooperation at EU level within the scope of the open coordination method was strengthened when the Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education adopted the “Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in Education and Training” (referred to in abbreviated form as “ET 2020”).

This set out the following objectives for future cooperation until the year 2020: making lifelong learning and mobility a reality; improving the quality and efficiency of education and training; promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship; enhancing creativity and innovation.

At the same time, further parallel developments have taken place. In 1999, 29 countries instigated the Bologna Process in order to ensure convergence between the higher education systems and create a European Higher Education Area by 2010. The Copenhagen Process, which was ratified in 2002, strengthened pan-European cooperation in initial and continuing training. (...)

EU work programme/strategic framework

In February 2002, the Ministers of Education of the European Union and the European Commission agreed on a joint and detailed educational policy work programme to extend until the year 2010. In conjunction with the Lisbon Strategy of 2000, this stipulated an extensive framework for European cooperation in the field of education and training. This work programme formed the basis for all follow-up activities in education and training, contained five benchmarks for the monitoring of progress and stipulated a new work procedure – the so-called “open method of coordination” (...). The aim was for the national education and training systems to be improved via supplementary instruments at a European level and by mutual learning.

The objectives of the work programme were to enable quality improvements in the national educational systems and easier access to education and to open up the European educational systems to the world in order to assist in developing Europe into “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world” by the year 2020 (aim of the Lisbon Strategy).

In May 2009, the EU Ministers of Education agreed on the continuation and expansion of cooperation in education and training until the year 2020. In specific terms, long-term objectives for the coming decade were set and initial priorities stipulated for the period 2009–2011.
The new work programme bears the title “Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in Education and Training” (ET 2020) and pursues the following four strategic objectives:

Strategic objectives until 2020

  • Making lifelong learning and mobility a reality
  • Improving the quality and efficiency of education and training
  • Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship
  • Enhancing creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training.

The period leading up to 2020 was divided up into several cycles. Certain priority areas for each of the four strategic aims have already been identified for the first cycle from 2009–2011. The aims of reaching agreement on these priorities are to improve work efficiency and to accord due consideration to the fact that each member state has individual requirements and is facing special challenges.

Agreement was also reached on an updated list of Euroepan benchmarks in order to review the joint progress made.

Individual contributions towards the implementation of these objectives can only be provided within the respective member states themselves. The diversity of European educational systems and the cooperation within EU educational programmes provides a wide spectrum of different experiences which can be used for the national processes. The EU supports this process. (...)

(Extracts from: EU-Bildungspolitik (EU educational policy), published by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Bonn, Berlin 2010 (in German))

Further information is available here.

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