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Brussels, 12 May 2009

Commission welcomes agreement by the Member States to intensify their cooperation in education and training

Today the Council adopted a new strategic framework for co-operation between EU Member States to reform their education and training systems. This is an important signal in the current economic crisis, as common challenges, such as skills deficits, ageing societies and tough global competition need joint responses and countries learning from each other. The conclusions identify both immediate priorities for 2009-11 and long-term challenges for the decade ahead. The tools used to meet them include new education and training benchmarks for monitoring progress across Europe.

The European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Ján Figel' welcomed the decision: "I am very happy that we have reached an agreement on the new framework for co-operation, which will guide our joint work in the years to come. The agreed priorities underline the important role that education and training must play in the broader debate on economic and social reforms. And they stress the essential contribution that lifelong learning makes for a swift and sustainable economic recovery from the current crisis, to meet the long-term challenges of the knowledge society."

Co-operation will support reform of Europe's education and training systems

European education and training systems need reform to better prepare people to find jobs, to help businesses find the staff they need to succeed and innovate in the face of global competition. The quality and efficiency of education systems play a key role in supporting social inclusion, cultivating responsible citizenship and openness towards other cultures. For that, lifelong learning must become a reality across Europe so people can acquire key skills early and update them throughout their life.

While the responsibility for education and training lies with national governments, some challenges are common to all EU countries. These include: the need for a workforce that will have the right skills for tomorrow's jobs, and the threats of ageing societies and more intense global competition. Some goals, e.g. helping students and learners to move between countries, cannot be achieved by individual countries acting alone. Other goals will be easier to achieve if countries learn from each other and develop common tools, which can then be adapted to meet the specific needs of each country. EU Member States and the European Commission will strengthen their co-operation in order to support future reforms in the Member States.

Monitoring progress – revised benchmarks

The Council also agreed an updated set of benchmarks used to measure the progress made by education and training systems at European level. They cover the whole lifelong learning perspective, from participation in early childhood education, the basic skills of 15 year-olds and early education leavers, through to tertiary level attainment and the participation of adults in lifelong learning. Future work will be undertaken in the important political areas of student mobility, employability and language competences.

To find out more:

European Commission: European strategy and co-operation in education and training:

Updated strategic framework for European co-operation in education and training:

European Commission: Progress towards the Lisbon objectives in education and training - Indicators and benchmarks, 2008 report:

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