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SOCRATES - Phase II

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The aim of Socrates Phase II is to promote a Europe of knowledge and encourage lifelong education through learning foreign languages, encouraging mobility, promoting cooperation at European level, opening up to methods of access to education and increasing the use of new technologies in the field of education.

ACT

Decision No 253/2000/EC of 24 January 2000 of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the second phase of the Community programme in the field of education "SOCRATES" [Official Journal L 28 of 03.02.2000]

SUMMARY

Context

Based on experience acquired in the first phase of the SOCRATES programme, and on the aims defined by the Commission in its communication " Towards a Europe of Knowledge ", this Decision establishes the second phase of the "SOCRATES" action programme for implementing an education policy for the period between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2006.

Aims

The two main ideas behind SOCRATES II are: the promotion of lifelong learning and the development of a Europe of knowledge. The more specific aims of SOCRATES II are as follows:

  • to strengthen the European dimension in education at all levels;
  • to improve knowledge of foreign languages;
  • to promote cooperation and mobility in the field of education;
  • to encourage the use of new technologies in education;
  • to promote equal opportunities in all sectors of education.

Implementation of these aims at European level is complementary to the policies of the Member States. The Commission will ensure that programme measures are consistent with other Community measures and policies.

Action

The SOCRATES programme is implemented through eight measures, five of which are targeted, while the other three are transverse measures aimed at improving coordination within SOCRATES:

  • Comenius: school education: nursery, primary and secondary schools

Aim: to increase the quality of education, strengthen the European dimension and promote language learning.

Comenius is aimed at players in the education community and civil society (local authorities, associations, NGOs, etc.) in order to carry out school projects (with a minimum of three establishments from three participating countries), linguistic projects (involving two establishments from two participating countries) and school development projects (with a minimum of three establishments from three participating countries); multilateral cooperation projects between different types of institutions. The Commission also awards individual grants to future teachers.

  • Erasmus: higher, university and post-university education

Aim: to encourage mobility and language learning.

Erasmus is intended either for students, to promote their mobility, or for teachers in order to enable them to take part in exchanges, develop joint courses, programme intensive courses and take part in forming thematic networks.

  • Grundtvig: adult education and other education pathways

Aim: to supplement Comenius and Erasmus by facilitating the integration of adults excluded from the school system.

Grundtvig is aimed at formal institutions (schools, universities) as well as informal ones (associations, museums, etc.), in order to carry out projects aimed at: improving cooperation between educational levels, creating education partnerships, carrying out mobility activities for training, and establishing Grundtvig networks for exchanging information.

Aim: to promote the targeted learning and teaching of languages.

Lingua is aimed at teachers and students from formal or informal institutions in at least three countries coming together to form partnerships aimed on the one hand at raising awareness, motivating and informing European citizens about language learning and on the other at developing technical tools to facilitate language learning.

  • Minerva: information and communication technologies in education

Aim: to encourage the use of information and communication technologies (ICT), multimedia and open and distance learning (ODL).

Minerva is aimed at teachers and students from schools and universities, but also from the world of the multimedia industry, ICT and the civil society, in order to carry out projects aimed at: improving the understanding of innovation, designing new teaching methods, communicating project results and promoting the exchange of experience with regard to ODL and ICT.

Aim: to observe the educational contexts of other Member States in order to make each national education system innovative.

This measure is aimed at the entire education community and civil society in the wider sense (local authorities, associations, NGOs, etc.), in order to carry out projects aimed at: developing comparative analyses of education systems and policies (Eurydice), organising study visits (Arion), setting up a network of institutes (Naric), encouraging the recognition of diplomas and launching pilot projects.

Aim: to increase synergy in education policies (Socrates), vocational training (Leonardo da Vinci) and youth (Youth).

These measures are carried out by means of calls for proposals on themes common to the three programmes referred to above in order to increase the existing synergy.

Aim: to increase the flexibility of Socrates.

These measures are aimed at promoting cooperation in the field of education, disseminating project results, and improving the implementation of projects and the synergy between the various measures in the programme.

Beneficiaries

More specifically, the beneficiaries of the measures are: a) all pupils, students or other learners; b) all categories of education personnel; c) all types of education establishments; d) persons and bodies responsible for education systems and policies at local, regional and national level.

In addition, participation in the measures is also open to all public and private organisations cooperating with education establishments, particularly: a) local and regional authorities and organisations; b) associations working in the field of education; c) parents' associations; d) enterprises and groups of enterprises, and professional organisations; e) chambers of commerce and industry; f) social partner organisations at all levels; g) research centres and organisations.

Participating countries

The programme is open to the Member States of the European Union (Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom), the three countries of the European Economic Area (EEA - Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), the two candidate countries (Bulgaria and Romania) and Turkey.

Implementation of the programme

The programme is administered by national agencies in each participating country, ensuring a more direct link with citizens. The Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, is called upon to ensure, in spite of everything, the consistent implementation of the Community measures in the programme. In order to better achieve these aims of coordination and cooperation, the Commission is assisted by a committee composed of representatives of the Member States and chaired by the Commission representative.

Budget

The budget for the execution of the programme is set at EUR 1 850 million.

Decision No 451/2003/EC introduces greater flexibility in the application of the principle of cofinancing for decentralised actions in favour of projects developed by small institutions.

Monitoring and evaluation

The programme is continuously monitored by the Commission in cooperation with the Member States. On the basis of two four-yearly reports from each Member State, the Commission will present to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions the following documents:

  • an interim evaluation report on the implementation of the programme, to be submitted by 30.6.2004;
  • a communication on the continuation of the programme, to be submitted by 31.12.2006;
  • an ex-post evaluation report, to be submitted by 31.12.2007.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision No 253/2000/EC03.02.2006 - 31.12.2006-OJ L 28 of 03.02.2006

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision No 451/2003/EC02.04.2003-OJ L 69 of 13.03.2003
Decision No 786/2004/EC30.04.2004-OJ L 138 of 30.04.2004
Regulation (EC) No 885/200401.05.2004-OJ L 168 of 01.05.2004

RELATED ACTS

Decision No 1720/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 November 2006 establishing an action programmein the field of lifelong learning [Official Journal L 327 of 24.11.2006].

Report from the Commission - Interim evaluation report on the results achieved and on the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the implementation of the second phase of the Community action programme in the field of education 'Socrates' [COM(2000)153 -- Not published in the Official Journal].

Socrates is a complex programme consisting of many actions and sub-actions which are managed in different ways. For the period 2000-2003 it had a budget of EUR 1 850 million plus the annual contribution from the 15 associated countries. Based on the ratio of financial resources to results achieved, the programme is very efficient, with a great many activities of a small or medium scale having been carried out. The great diversity of the results achieved means that the field of education is widely covered. Moreover, the distribution of beneficiaries across the 30 participating countries is highly satisfactory, thus ensuring that the programme has a truly European dimension.

Mobility activities, which have continued to increase, are highly effective, particularly in the area of student mobility. The milestone of one million Erasmus students was celebrated in 2002, and the target of three million Erasmus students is expected to be reached in 2010. Achieving such an ambitious goal will require a significant increase in resources for this activity. On the other hand, teacher and trainer mobility is not as high as it could be. Most of the obstacles to mobility activities are outside the programme itself and concern the way in which mobility activities are organised nationally, the operating methods of educational establishments and, to a lesser extent, insufficient knowledge of languages. The Commission will have to work with the Member States to eliminate these obstacles and with those in the education sector to expand the availability of language training.

The programme is also effective in terms of interinstitutional cooperation. The partnerships involving schools and adult training bodies have been strengthened, as have the transnational cooperation projects. The networks have also found their footing after some of them had to redefine their objectives and specific characteristics during the programme. However, the programme is still not as effective as it could be as regards its visibility and the dissemination of its results. The European Year of Languages, organised as part of the Lingua programme, has made it possible to identify more clearly what is required in terms of language knowledge and the importance of activities which involve providing information and raising awareness. Efforts to tie the programme more closely to the vocational training sector should be stepped up in order to respond properly to the political challenge of creating a European area of lifelong learning.

It should be noted that programme administration has become more rigorous at all levels (projects, national and Community management structures). Increased decentralisation of the management of certain actions has made the programme more accessible to the public and simplified procedures for users. However, the programme's efficiency is regarded as rather more moderate when comparing the procedures with the nature and scale of most of the activities. It is unfortunate that an effective electronic management tool is not in place. The work to streamline procedures should be continued during the present programme and borne in mind when preparing the next one.

For further information on the statistics on implementation of the second phase of the Socrates programme, please consult the Commission's working paper [SEC(2004) 230 - Not published in the Official Journal].

Last updated: 19.02.2007
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