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EU Treaties reform: MEPs call to strengthen EU competencies on education

On 22 November 2023, the European Parliament adopted the report forming the Parliament’s input at a Convention for the revision of the European Union’s Treaties. This report was approved by the Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs in late October 

The European Parliament is advocating reforms that will enhance the EU’s capacity to act and strengthen the say of citizens. Key among the proposals by MEPs are: 

  • a more bicameral system and fewer deadlocks in the Council, through more decisions by qualified majority voting and the ordinary legislative procedure; 
  • a fully-fledged right of legislative initiative, and a co-legislator role for Parliament for the long-term budget; 
  • an overhaul of the rules for the Commission’s composition (rebranded as the “European Executive”), including the election of its President (with the nomination to be done by Parliament and the approval by the European Council - a reversal of the current process), limiting the number of Commissioners to 15 (rotating between the member states), enabling the Commission President to choose their College based on political preferences with geographic and demographic balance in mind, and a mechanism to censure individual Commissioners; 
  • significantly greater transparency in the Council by publishing EU member state positions on legislative issues; and 
  • more say for citizens through an obligation for the EU to create appropriate participatory mechanisms and by giving European political parties a stronger role. 

Importantly, regarding EU competences and subsidiarity, MEPs proposed to establish shared competences on education especially when transnational issues such as mutual recognition of degrees, grades, competences and qualifications are concerned. 

Furthermore, MEPs called for the Union to develop common objectives and standards for an education that promotes democratic values and the rule of law, as well as digital and economic literacy, and to promote cooperation and coherence between educational establishments systems while guaranteeing the cultural traditions and regional diversity. Other areas encompassed developing common standards on vocational training to increase the mobility of workers; protecting and promoting access to free and universal schooling, institutional and individual academic freedom, and human rights, as defined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. 

The report, approved with 305 votes in favour, 276 against, and 29 abstentions, was prepared by five co-rapporteurs representing a broad majority in Parliament. The accompanying resolution was adopted with 291 votes in favour, 274 against, and 44 abstentions.