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Belgian Council Presidency Conference gives strong endorsement for “Youth on the Move”

This newsletter reports on conferences only in exceptional cases. The Belgian Council Presidency Conference Youth on the Move, held in Antwerp on 5 and 6 October 2010, deserves such exceptional treatment. The event, which attracted some 300 delegates and was superbly organised by the Flemish Ministry of Education, discussed the European Union’s new flagship initiative Youth on the Move, designed to boost the mobility of young people for purposes of learning. Combining issues of policy and practice, the event also provided an opportunity to recognise specific higher education institutions for “excellence in applying the European Credit Transfer System and/or the Diploma Supplement” through an ECTS and DS Award Ceremony.

An impressive number of high-level experts and policy makers contributed to the success of the conference. The event was opened by Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou and Flemish Education Minister Pascal Smet, who made a well-argued plea for English as a lingua franca for European higher education. Director General Jan Truszcynski and Directors Hélène Clark and Jordi Curell Gotor completed the impressive Commission presence. Other dignitaries included Dirk van Damme of the OECD, David Dill (formerly of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Eva Egron-Polak of IAU and Christian Bode of DAAD.

In his capacity as general rapporteur, Bernd Wächter, the Director of ACA, stressed that the conference gave strong support to the Commission’s plans to boost the mobility of learners and teachers (“achieving mobility for all”), and to make more resources available for this purpose. He also highlighted that, when implementing the Youth on the Move strategy, approaches needed to be aligned to the needs of different sectors and target groups, since there are, in fact, many “mobilities”. He also called on participants to support the European Commission in its efforts to secure the necessary funds, which would not be easy given the Member States’ likely reluctance to spend more money on mobility at a time of tight budgets.

Belgian Council Presidency Conference “Youth on the Move-Achieving mobility for all!”