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EU member states Parliaments calibrate their vision for the European Education Area

On 31 May 2021, the European Parliament’s CULT Committee held an exchange of views on the European Education Area (EEA) with national and regional parliaments of the current Council Presidency Trio, composed of Portugal, Germany, and Slovenia.

CULT Chair, Sabine Verheyen, emphasised the need to draft concrete implementation strategies and design effective governance structures, whereas Themis Christophidou, Director-General of the Directorate General of Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, outlined the Commission’s goals for the EEA and related plans for the mid-term and final review, including the publication of a progress report in 2022 and a full report in 2025.

National and regional parliament speakers discussed opportunities for enhancing mobility for both students and teachers, facilitating mutual recognition of diplomas, enhancing lifelong learning, and promoting the European dimension in curricula and teacher training, and argued for the need to invest in the development of learners’ and teachers’ digital skills.

Their views, however, differed on the most effective governance systems to underpin the EEA, varying between a ‘soft’, voluntary approach based on common benchmarks and indicators, exchange of best practices and peer learning, and more ambitious steps towards the establishment of a fully-fledged governance framework by 2025strongly linked to the European Semester process. It was thus concluded that, while subsidiarity must be fully respected, steps should be taken at all levels to enhance cooperation and coordination to support more cohesive, sustainable and resilient societies through quality and inclusive education, training and lifelong learning.

When it comes to specific strategies that support the implementation of the EEA in the higher education field, the Commission is currently co-developing with a group of stakeholders a so-called European Strategy for Universities (formerly known as the Higher Education Transformation Agenda). As explained in the framework of the EU Research and Innovation Days, this Strategy is supposed to guide higher education institutions towards several EU-level priority goals such as green and digital transition, innovation, diversity and global cooperation. ACA is contributing to this co-creation process as one of the key stakeholders in higher education in the EU.