In the field of education and training the mission of the European Commission is to reinforce and promote lifelong learning.
The Directorate-General's work on education and training follows a twin-track approach of policy cooperation with EU Member States on the one hand and the implementation of the Lifelong Learning Programme on the other hand.
Policy cooperation means in practice that the European Commission supports, develops and implements lifelong learning policies with the aim of enabling countries to work together and to learn from each other, with an important emphasis on mobility. It does so through the "open method of coordination", while respecting the full competencies of Member States in education and training.
Education and training policy has gained particular momentum with the adoption of the "Europe 2020" strategy, the EU's overarching programme focusing on growth and jobs. Recognising that lifelong learning is key to both jobs and growth and the participation of everyone in society, EU Member States and the European Commission have strengthened their political cooperation through the strategic framework "Education and Training 2020".
Since 2007, the European Commission has integrated its various educational and training initiatives under a single umbrella, the Lifelong Learning Programme. The objective of the programme is to enable individuals at all stages of their lives to pursue stimulating learning opportunities across Europe. The European Commission is responsible for the overall implementation of the programme while the management of certain parts lies within the remit of the Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) and of national agencies in the EU Member States.
At the European Commission’s Education and Culture Directorate-General (DG EAC) three Directorates deal with the field of education and training.
The mission of Directorate "Lifelong learning: horizontal policy issues and 2020 strategy" is to promote and support the development and implementation of the European strategy for lifelong learning. Its activities are part of the Europe 2020 strategy, which recognises the important role of education and training when it comes to improving growth and employment.
The mission of Directorate "Lifelong learning: policies and programme" is to develop the European strategy for education and training and follow its implementation. The Directorate is also in charge of implementing the Lifelong Learning Programme.
The mission of Directorate "Lifelong learning: higher education and international affairs" is to support excellence by reinforcing the knowledge triangle of higher education, research and innovation and through structural reform of higher education.
The Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive Agency(EACEA) is responsible for the management of certain parts of the EU's education and training programmes. The Executive Agency operates under supervision of its three parent Directorates-General: Education and Culture (DG EAC), Communication (DG COMM) and the EuropeAid Cooperation Office (DG AIDCO).
National agencies in the EU Member States are responsible for the management of certain decentralised actions implementing the Lifelong Learning Programme.
Cedefop (the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training) is responsible for the co-ordination of the transversal study visits programme for education and vocational training specialists and decision makers, on behalf of the European Commission.