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Autumn meeting of the Education Council – 3 areas of focus

The Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council of the European Union convened on 28-29 November in Brussels for its autumn meeting, to discuss critical issues on the EU education agenda. The Council Conclusions released on this occasion touch on three important topics: the EU benchmark for learning mobility, the issue of language competences to enhance mobility and the modernisation of higher education Communication of the European Commission.

Regarding the EU mobility benchmark, the Council confirmed the targets put forward in May this year by the European Commission, both for higher education and initial VET (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, May 2011). According to the Council, though, these target levels do not have to literally be achieved by each member state. Rather, while taking into account their country realities, member states have the liberty to decide “how and to what extent they can contribute to the collective achievement of the European benchmark”. Further, the Education ministers make a plea for the Commission to work, together with Eurostat and members states, to improve the availability of statistical data on mobility. The Commission is also invited on this occasion to report regularly, from now onwards, on progress made in reaching the mobility objectives.

Meanwhile, acknowledging past and current efforts to support multilingualism of both the European Commission and EU member states, the Council invites the EU executive in particular to: consider putting forward a proposal for a benchmark on language competences, as a means to promote continuous improvement of linguistic training; to launch and disseminate comparative studies and surveys at the European level on language learning methodologies and tools, with a focus on qualitative aspects; and, last but not least, to “consider making language learning a priority area in the next generation of EU programmes in the field of education and training”.

As far as the modernisation of higher education agenda is concerned, the Council welcomed the Commission’s Communication on this topic, launched in September this year (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, September 2011), as well as its future plans for action. It further invited member states to take, in line with their national practice, no fewer than 18 different steps to contribute to European-level efforts in this area.

Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council