Due to supplement EU competence in education and culture, the European Education Area, EEA is a process of intensive dialogue and joint actions with the member states. Hence, the EU member states actively cooperate to overcome existing and coming challenges adding to the momentum of creating the EEA; the efforts are based on Commission’s progress report (from November 2022) under the mid-term review process.
The idea to create a European Education Area was first endorsed by European leaders at the 2017 Social Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden. The first packages of measures were adopted in 2018 and 2019. In September 2020, the Commission outlined its renewed EEA’s with some concrete actions to achieve it; the Council of the EU responded with the February 2021 Resolution on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training for the period 2021-2030. In November 2022 the Commission published a progress report in achieving the EEA; the report highlights the work done and the challenges to be addressed.
In 2023, the Commission invited the member states and other stakeholders to join in discussing the EEA’s mid-term review, to focus on drawing lessons from the first years and building momentum and commitment until 2025 when the full report on EEA is foreseen.
Numerous EU funds assist the process of strengthening education in Europe: e.g. Erasmus+, InvestEU, the Cohesion Funds, Digital Europe program and Recovery and Resilience Facility. All these EU-wide measures continue implementation, robust monitoring and solidified reforms towards building an even stronger European Education Area, EEA.
More in: https://commission.europa.eu/education/policy-educational-issues/shared-challenges-education-and-training_en
Main dimensions of progress in EEA
The Commission has underlined the following main directions in reforms during next two years concerning quality, inclusion and citizenship:
– Quality teaching and learning mobility. The European Education Area aims to create a learning space that is not hampered by borders: the midterm review coincides with the midterm evaluation of the current Erasmus+ program, which in turn works in tandem with the EU efforts to update the learning mobility framework.
Important element is that the education policy in the states and the EU-wide programs must move together in unison.
Besides, to facilitate and further promote cross-border learning mobility, right conditions have to be put in place, the existing obstacles are removed with additional sufficient incentives. The Commission has gathered feedback from more than one thousand respondents, through public consultations, including a European citizens’ panel, and a wide range of targeted consultations.
The Erasmus+ program -for the first time -includes a comprehensive “Inclusion and Diversity Strategy” to widen access to the program and ensure participation for all; three weeks ago, the Commission launched a public consultation under the interim evaluation of the program.
At the same time, the member states have to address the remaining obstacles to the automatic mutual recognition of qualifications and outcomes of learning periods abroad, so that education institutions can work together more actively following our efforts through the European Strategy for Universities.
Presently, through the EU funding from the Erasmus+ program, 50 European Universities Alliances are bringing together more than 430 higher education institutions across 35 countries; they are developing solutions that can, in turn, be mainstreamed across the whole higher education landscape in Europe. Additionally, the EU opened a call to increase the number of alliances to at least 60.
National career framework
Teachers, trainers and school leaders have a fundamental role in building the European Education Area: they are making sure that curriculums are delivered properly and that learners develop well. Hence, the learning mobility is a very powerful tool for high quality and inclusive education; however, it is not the only area where the active cooperation among the states, the EU and other stakeholder education organisations is needed.
Besides, the European Commission is working on European guidance for the development of national career frameworks; in this way the education community in Europe can see what can be achieved through European cooperation, learning from each other with the EU’s support. of the EU.
National career frameworks will promote the diversification of career opportunities for teachers, trainers and school leaders. This trend is in line with the mobility issues to increase teacher mobility opportunities.
The Erasmus+ Teacher Academies are progressing well: education and skills are crucial for teachers to feel equipped and valued. There are already twenty-seven EU-wide teachers’ academies, and more new academies are expected next year.
In March 2023, the EU has launched an expert group on supportive learning environments and well-being at school; the group is composed of leading researchers, academics, teachers, school principals and school psychologists from all EU member states with the aim of developing evidence-based policy recommendations and guidelines towards building a systemic, whole-school approach to well-being at school.
Another area for the EU-wide actions in coordinating education policies in the states is digital education. Due to positive developments in the EU Digital Education Action Plan, in 2022 the Commission launched two sets of guidelines to support teachers and educators: a) one on tackling disinformation and promoting digital literacy, and b) on the ethical use of Artificial Intelligence and data.
The Commission has also concluded the “structured dialogue” on digital education and skills with the EU member states’ education community. The outcomes of the dialogue have assisted in formulating Commission’s proposals for two key Council Recommendations on improving digital education and skills, which will soon be adopted by the Council.
Education on the European citizenship’s issues
European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Iliana Ivanova underlined in a press the need for national education providers and the EU-wide efforts to “leverage education cooperation not only to pass on basic skills and competences to everyone, but to educate for European citizenship, celebrating and preserving the values that move us to work together”.
Reference to: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/SPEECH_23_4876
Citizenship education and the European dimension of learning are fundamental aspects of the European integration process and the EU-wide cooperation through the European Education Area. There are already positive examples of “good practices” and inspirational work of committed teachers and learners. In fact, the European Education Area Working Group on Equality and Values routinely shares many great examples of this work.
The European Parliament has been a strong advocate for citizenship education at both national and European levels: e.g. initiatives like the Parliament’s Ambassador School Program or ‘Euroscola’, which help engage teachers, students and young people in the democratic processes of the EU.
At the same time, the Jean Monnet activities of the Erasmus+ program continue to promote knowledge of the EU and expanded it from higher education to include schools as well.