20th December, the Commission adopted the draft Joint Report of the Council and the Commission "Education and Training in a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe", on the implementation of the Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in education and training ("ET2020").
The report summarises the actions and developments during the first 2009 2011 cycle of implementing "ET2020" and suggests priority areas for European policy cooperation for the next cycle 2012-14.
It highlights in particular how cooperation in education and training can support reaching the objectives of the "Europe 2020" strategy.
Key findings:
1. The imperative to consolidate public finance puts budgets under pressure – including expenditure for education and training. However, as improving educational achievements can yield immense long-term returns and generate growth and jobs, there is a need for smart investment going along with policy reforms improving the quality of outcomes.
2. More efforts are needed to reach the Europe 2020 headline target on early school leaving and tertiary education and to implement the reforms called for by the 2011 Council Recommendation on policies to reduce early school leaving and the recent Commission Communication on the modernisation of higher education.
3. For the majority of EU citizens, lifelong learning is not a reality. This bodes ill for those hit hardest by the crisis. Unemployed youth and low-skilled adults depend on education and training to stand a fair chance on the labour market.
4. Transnational mobility for acquiring new skills enables individuals to strengthen their future employability and personal development. However, the current levels of mobility do not match its importance and benefits.
5. As the crisis has accelerated the change of skills needs on the labour market and the need to improve Europe's skills base, ET2020 will support the implementation of the Europe 2020 flagship initiative "Agenda for new skills and jobs" by promoting key competences for all citizens, close cooperation between education and the labour market and improved monitoring and anticipation of skills needs.
The Commission suggests these areas to be confirmed as priorities for European cooperation during the next "ET 2020" work cycle (2012-2014), so as to sustain a successful implementation of "Europe 2020".
The joint report will now be discussed in the Council in view of its adoption under the Danish presidency 2012. More information.