On 1 July 2013, Lithuania took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union
for the first time since the country joined the EU in 2004. With a population of approximately 3 million, it is the first of the three Baltic States to assume the Council’s presidential duties. The two other Baltic countries, Latvia and Estonia, will hold the presidency the first half of 2015 and 2018 respectively.
From 8 to 12 July, the Lithuanian ministers outlined the priorities of the Lithuanian Presidency
to the different parliamentary committees. At the Culture and Education Committee, Education and Science Minister Dainius Pavalkis ascertained that the implementation of the new education, youth and sports programme ERASMUS+
(to be started on 1 January 2014) is part of the Presidency’s key priorities.
Overall, quality and efficiency in education and training
were emphasized, and the main priorities
- internationalisation of higher education (i.e. academic mobility and global cooperation between higher education institutions) and cost-efficiency;
- leadership in education to improve learning outcomes;
- strengthening relevance and promoting openness of vocational education and training (VET), as well as alliances between education and the labour market, and
- assessing the impact of Open Educational Resources (OERs) and digital learning.
Among the other topics and challenges in the area of education, Dainius Pavalkis also mentioned the Commission’s new initiative
on Opening-up Education - a proposal for a European Initiative to enhance education and skills development through new technologies
and the Presidency’s intention of organising an important policy debate on the topic among EU education ministers next November
Lithuania will hold the Presidency until 1 January 2014,
where Greece will take over. The Greek Presidency will have the big challenge of preparing for the European parliamentary elections, which will take place between 22 and 25 May 2014.
Speech by Dainius Pavalkis