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With the approaching of the end of the year, time has come to sum up where we stand with Education policies of the EU and its member states. The last Council meetings of the year synthetised some of the recent developments.
First, let us start with the financial concerns. On 9 December, EU finance ministers expressed broad support to the new EUR 315 billion Investment Plan, presented on 26 November by the European Commission and aimed at getting “Europe growing again and get more people back to work”. According to the guidelines, this additional investment will target, among others, also education, research and innovation. The Commission is expected to submit a legislative proposal in January 2015 and the aim is to have it adopted by June 2015. In addition, European Parliament and Council’s negotiators reached a compromise on the EU budget, which could affect the level of education and research funding for the next year (see ACA Newsletter 'Education Europe', Edition November 2014). The deal includes extra payment appropriations of some EUR 3.5 billion for the 2014 budget while 2015 payment appropriations are set at EUR 141.21 billion, an amount closer to the Commission’s initial proposal than to the Council’s position.
Secondly, the Education and Youth Council had its last meeting of the year on 12 December. A major topic on the agenda of Education Ministers was the discussion of the social and economic benefits of education. New Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, in charge of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, participated in the debate, as well as the employment ministers of the current presidency trio. The policy debate constitutes the education sector's contribution to the ongoing preparations for a mid-term review of the Europe 2020 strategy to be finalised in the spring of 2015.
Additionally, Education ministers adopted the conclusions on Entrepreneurship in education and training, highlighting the importance of developing entrepreneurial skills and of reinforcing links between the education system and the business world. In particular, member states were invited to fully exploit the potential of Erasmus+ in supporting entrepreneurship education, in particular through online tools such as knowledge alliances for higher education, as well as to make the best use of other European resources such as the European Social Fund. Entrepreneurship and education are also priorities of the Europe 2020 strategy. Although member states' efforts to support and promote entrepreneurship through education vary significantly, in general they remain rather limited.