As early as 2001/2002, the education ministers of the EU defined objectives for cooperation in the area of education and passed a detailed, long-term work programme for general and vocational education. In May 2009, the EU education ministers adopted the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training, ET 2020, which will structure European cooperation until 2020. The ET 2020 has four strategic objectives:
The work programme ET 2020 affects all activities in the area of education at EU level, including the Copenhagen Process. The Council and the Commission report jointly on the progress made in the realization of the work programme, while at the same time agreeing on what steps to take next. In many cases, measures are implemented with support from the Lifelong Learning Programme. Progress made is shown by means of indicators and benchmarks.
The adoption of the Europe 2020 strategy by the European Council has increased the visibility and importance of European cooperation in education and training. Major goals are to reduce the percentage of school drop-outs to below 10 per cent and to increase the percentage of 30-34 year olds with a tertiary or equivalent educational attainment to at least 40 per cent by 2020.
Facilitating the comparability of qualifications in the European education area is a crucial objective of the EU education ministers' strategic framework. More transparency and permeability between general education, vocational training and higher education is to improve the preconditions for lifelong learning in Europe, and also further professional mobility in Europe. An important example of this is the recommendation for a European Qualifications Framework. In conjunction with national qualifications frameworks, the European Qualifications Framework is designed to enable the categorization of acquired knowledge, skills and competences into eight reference levels. In other words, the European Qualifications Framework is a sort of translation tool between national qualification systems. In addition, ECTS (European Credit Transfer System), ECVET (European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training) and europass also promote mobility within Europe by facilitating the recognition of qualifications acquired abroad.
Reference instruments of this sort and the resulting conclusions and recommendations of the Council also have the aim of encouraging and supporting national reforms. Examples include recommendations on key competences, the quality of higher education and vocational training, and the efficiency and equity of education. Another central aim is the structured exchange of experiences. In a series of thematic working groups (so-called clusters), representatives and experts from the member states meet to discuss current topics of mutual interest.
With the help of the National Agency Education for Europe, the BMBF supports the realization of the work programme of Education Ministers by organizing information events, conferences and seminars.
Further information on EU-level cooperation on education and training can be found at the regularly updated website for EU education policy in Germany.
Deutsche Version dieser Seite
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January 2010, in German only (URL: http://www.bmbf.de/pubRD/stellungnahme_gruenbuch_mobilitaet.pdf)
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November 2009 (URL: http://www.bmbf.de/pubRD/joint_progress_report_2009.pdf)