EU education and training policy has been given added impetus since the adoption of the Lisbon Strategy in 2000, the EU's overarching programme focusing on growth and jobs. It underlines that knowledge, and the innovation it sparks, are the EU's most valuable assets, particularly as global competition becomes more intense in all sectors.
High quality pre-primary, primary, secondary, higher and vocational education and training remain as important as ever. But initial learning is not enough. People's skills must be constantly renewed to enable them to meet the challenges of ever-evolving technologies, increasing internationalisation and demographic changes. Nowadays, lifelong learning is key to jobs and growth, as well as to allow everyone the chance to participate fully in society.
EU member states and the European Commission have strengthened their political cooperation through the Education and Training (E&T) 2010 work programme launched in 2001. Its follow-up, the Strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training, was adopted by the Council in May 2009. Both programmes integrate previous actions in the fields of education and training at the European level, including vocational education and training under the Copenhagen Process and links up to the Bologna Process, which is crucial in the development of the European Higher Education Area.
The strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training is aimed to complement and foster the objectives set by its predecessor. The strategic framework sets key objectives and targets to be reached by 2020.
The strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training identifies four long term strategic objectives:
- Making lifelong learning and mobility a reality;
- Improving the quality and efficiency of education and training;
- Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship; and
- Enhancing creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training.
It also sets EU-level benchmarks for 2020 that complement and/or refine existing ones. These new benchmarks consist of:
- At least 95% of children between 4 years old and the age for starting compulsory primary education should participate in early childhood education.
- The share of low-achieving 15-year olds in reading, mathematics and science should be less than 15%
- The share of early leavers from education and training should be less than 10%
- The share of 30-34 year olds with tertiary educational attainment should be at least 40%
- An average or at least 15% of adults should participate in lifelong learning.
Member States can learn a lot from each other. The Commission organises peer learning activities between member states interested in jointly developing national policies and systems in specific fields. The Knowledge System for Lifelong Learning is created to disseminate information on peer learning as well as other information from countries.
Considerable progress has been achieved through cooperation so far – particularly in support of national reforms on lifelong learning, the modernisation and the development of common European instruments promoting quality, transparency and mobility. The Knowledge System for Lifelong Learning provides access to three main types of national reports: summary sheets on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms (Eurydice), strategy documents on lifelong learning and national reports on the implementation of the Education and Training 2010 work programme.
For further information, see the EAC compendium of main policy developments and outputs. Print this page