Vocational training policy is based on Article 166 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which provides that: "The Union shall implement a vocational training policy which shall support and supplement the action of the Member States, while fully respecting the responsibility of the Member States for the content and organisation of vocational training".
Following the Bruges initiative of the senior civil servants responsible for vocational training (October 2001), an enhanced cooperation process was initiated in the education and vocational training field. The Copenhagen Declaration (2002) and the Maastricht Communiqué (2004) reasserted the priorities of transparency, recognition and training quality and set out priorities at national level.
Two important schemes were devised: Europass-Training (1998), which described skills acquired by training abroad, and Europass (2004), which combines five documents aimed at providing a clear and simple picture of the qualifications and skills of citizens throughout Europe.
The Leonardo da Vinci sectoral programme, as part of the action programme for education and life-long learning is the funding vehicle for training activities. It seeks to support and supplement the action taken by the Member States, by promoting transnational partnership and mobility, innovation and quality of training and also the European dimension of training systems and practice.
The European agencies and bodies active in the field of training are:
- the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), with its headquarters in Thessaloniki, established in 1975;
- the European Training Foundation, Turin, established in 1994;
- the Advisory Committee on Vocational Training, set up in 2004 to assist the Commission in carrying out its policy.