European Commission logoThe European Qualifications Framework (EQF) acts as a translation device to make national qualifications more readable across Europe, promoting workers' and learners' mobility between countries and facilitating their lifelong learning.
The EQF aims to relate different countries' national qualifications systems to a common European reference framework. Individuals and employers will be able to use the EQF to better understand and compare the qualifications levels of different countries and different education and training systems. Agreed upon by the European institutions in 2008, the EQF is being put in practice across Europe. It encourages countries to relate their national qualifications systems to the EQF so that all new qualifications issued from 2012 carry a reference to an appropriate EQF level. An EQF national coordination point has been designated for this purpose in each country.
Shifting focus
The core of the EQF concerns eight reference levels describing what a learner knows, understands and is able to do – 'learning outcomes'. Levels of national qualifications will be placed at one of the central reference levels, ranging from basic (Level 1) to advanced (Level 8). This will enable a much easier comparison between national qualifications and should also mean that people do not have to repeat their learning if they move to another country. The EQF applies to all types of education, training and qualifications, from school education to academic, professional and vocational. This approach shifts the focus from the traditional system which emphasises 'learning inputs', such as the length of a learning experience, or type of institution. It also encourages lifelong learning by promoting the validation of non-formal and informal learning. This reflects a wider shift within which the EQF is acting as a catalyst for reforms: most Member States are now developing their own National Qualifications Frameworks (NQFs) based on learning outcomes. Several countries (IE, MT, UK, FR and BE-Flanders) already have one in force.
Easier comparison
At present, an enterprise in France may hesitate to recruit a job applicant from, say, Sweden, because it does not understand the level of the qualifications presented by the Swedish candidate. But once the EQF is fully implemented, a Swedish person's certificates will bear a reference to an EQF reference level. The French authorities will have already decided where their own national certificates in the field concerned lie, so the French enterprise would use the EQF reference to get a better idea of how the Swedish qualification compares to French qualifications. An EQF advisory group brings together representatives from national authorities and other stakeholders to help with the implementation of the framework. Its work is complemented by the EU-wide Learning Outcomes Group which supports debate and peer learning on relevant issues, focusing on the development of national qualifications frameworks and the validation of non-formal and informal learning. The EQF initiative is closely related to the qualifications framework for the European Higher Education Area: the two frameworks are compatible and their implementation is coordinated.
More information
  • Summary of the EU legislation establishing the European Qualifications Framework
  • Legal text: Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning (April 2008)
    българскиCestinaDanskDeutschEllinikaEnglishespañolEesti keelSuomiFrançaisMagyarItalianoLietuviu kalbaLatviesu valodaMaltiNederlandsPolskiPortuguêsromanaslovenčinaslovensčinaSvenska(EU's Official Journal)
    българскиCestinaDanskDeutschEllinikaEnglishespañolEesti keelSuomiFrançaisMagyaritalianoLietuviu kalbaLatviskiMaltinederlandsPolskiPortuguêsromaniaslovenčinaslovenscinaSvenska(Brochure)
  • The European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning (leaflet)
    българскиCestinaDanskDeutschEllinikaEnglishespañolEesti keelSuomiFrançaisMagyaritalianoLietuviu kalbaLatviskiMaltinederlandsPolskiPortuguêsromaniaslovenčinaslovenscinaSvenska
  • Criteria and procedures for referencing national qualifications levels to the EQF
    English
EQF internet portal
  • Referencing the Lithuanian Qualifications Framework to the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning and the Qualifications Framework for the European Higher Education Area,
  • Portal dedicated to the implementation of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning
Reports on the referencing of national qualifications frameworks to the EQF
  • Referencing the Lithuanian Qualifications Framework to the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning and the Qualifications Framework for the European Higher Education Area,
  • Referencing of the Estonian Qualifications and Qualifications Framework to the European Qualifications Framework
  • Referencing of the Latvian Education System to the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning and the Qualifications Framework for the European Higher Education Area
  • The referencing document of the Dutch National Qualification Framework to the European Qualification Framework
  • Referencing of the Irish National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) to the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning.
  • Referencing of the Malta Qualifications Framework (MQF) to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and the Qualifications Framework of the European Higher Education Area (QF/EHEA)
  • Referencing the Qualifications Frameworks of the United Kingdom to the European Qualifications Framework
  • Référencement du cadre national de certification français vers le cadre européen de certification pour la formation tout au long de la vie
European Qualifications Framework Series EQF Newsletter