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Education, Youth and Culture Council (EYC), Brussels, 20-21 November 2008

European Commission - MEMO/08/722   19/11/2008

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MEMO/08/722

Brussels, 19 November 2008

Education, Youth and Culture Council (EYC), Brussels, 20-21 November 2008

This Memo provides journalists with a brief overview, from the Commission's point of view, of the issues that will be discussed at the "Education, Youth and Culture" Council on 20-21 November in Brussels.

CULTURE

Draft Council conclusions on the creation of a "European heritage label" by the European Union

Background

The European Heritage Label was created as an intergovernmental initiative in 2005. A first round of 59 sites in 16 Member States, as well as in Switzerland, obtained the Label in 2007. The "communautarisation" of the Label is now one of the main priorities of the French presidency.

The label should be based on new procedures with common, clear and transparent selection criteria. Such criteria are indeed essential to ensure the quality, the credibility and the long-term success of the Label.

Synergies and complementarities with existing initiatives such as the UNESCO World Heritage List or the Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe will be looked at. The added value of the European Heritage Label rests on the significant contribution made by the selected sites to European history and culture, but also on a clear pedagogical dimension with the aim of reaching out to citizens, including young people.

At this Council

Ministers are expected to adopt Conclusions which will invite the Commission to submit a proposal for the creation of a new European Heritage Label by the European Union and specify the practical procedures for the implementation of the project.

Draft Council Conclusions on architecture: culture's contribution to sustainable development

Background

These conclusions are especially important in the run up to the European Year of Creativity and Innovation in 2009. They highlight the role architecture - as a creative industry combining cultural creation and innovation - can play in implementing sustainable urban development.

Further they are inscribed in the context of the 2001 Council Resolution on architectural quality in urban and rural environment and the Leipzig Charter on sustainable European cities. Its impact on the cultural development of cities, as well as on the economy, social cohesion, and the environment make architecture an indispensable part of our contemporary life.

Member States and the Commission should jointly take stock of the implementation results of the draft Conclusions by 2012.

At this Council

Ministers are expected to adopt these Conclusions

Draft Conclusions of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, on the promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue in the external relations of the Union and its Member States

Background

The Conclusions propose a strategic approach for culture and intercultural dialogue in the context of international cooperation, external relations and sustainable development. This is the first time that such a proposal is made.

The added value of this political initiative resides on three levels:

  • ensure a balanced implementation of the European Agenda for culture by proposing a coherent framework for advancing its third objective (promotion of culture as a vital element in the Union's international relations);
  • propose a follow up scheme to the 2008 European Year for Intercultural Dialogue from the point of view of external relations.
  • lay down useful pointers for the implementation and promotion of the UNESCO Convention on cultural diversity, which will help us reinforce the role of culture and maintain cultural diversity high on the international political agenda.

The overarching objective is to strengthen the place and role of culture in policies and programmes conducted within the framework of external relations and promote cooperation in this area with third countries and international organisations.

Key Actions:

The Conclusions foresee that a comprehensive and consistent approach for incorporating culture in external relations is established. In addition to elements relating to the promotion and implementation of the UNESCO Convention on cultural diversity, it is proposed to establish region- and country-specific strategies adapted to the economic, social and cultural situations of respective partners.

At this Council

Ministers are expected to adopt the Conclusions.

Multilingualism, translation and intercultural dialogue: Commission Communication "Multilingualism: an asset for Europe and a shared commitment" and Draft Council Resolution on a European Strategy for multilingualism (see also EDUCATION)

Background

Over the past years the Commission has put greater emphasis on multilingualism as a way of making the most of European linguistic diversity. In May this year the Education Council adopted Council Conclusions on multilingualism. It recalled then the key importance for citizens to learn at least two other languages, the need to make the most of linguistic diversity and the wider implications of language skills for employability, competitiveness, social cohesion and intercultural dialogue. It invited the Commission to come up with proposals.

In response the Commission adopted in September a Communication on "Multilingualism: an asset for Europe and a shared commitment". It proposes 30 concrete actions for the Commission and Member States as well as overall coordination to promote multilingualism as a transversal feature of several policies ("mainstreaming") and structured dialogue with stakeholders. It is worth noting that this transversal approach includes also an external dimension, to promote both EU languages abroad and the EU concept of valuing linguistic diversity in our relations with third countries.

This wider concept of multilingualism focuses on language skills of citizens but also on translation, in order to overcome communication barriers. Translation in its various forms (literary translation, subtitling, surtitling, dubbing, machine translation) is a pre-condition to ensure access to cultural works produced in other EU countries and their circulation in Europe.

The Resolution is a follow-up of the Commission Communication of September 2008.

At this Council

Multilingualism matters will be taken up twice by this Council. Firstly, Ministers of Culture will exchange views on translation aspects, which are given particular emphasis in the Resolution. Then, Ministers of Education are expected to adopt the entire Resolution, as the foundations of a successful policy for multilingualism hinges on successful language teaching and learning.

YOUTH

Draft Council Resolution on Health and Well-being of Young People

Background

The Resolution invites both the Member States and the Commission to promote the 'youth' dimension in health-related initiatives and cross-sectoral cooperation, to improve knowledge and research of the field, to integrate data on it into the triennial EU report (to be drawn up by the Commission) on the state of youth in Europe and to foster the exchange of best practice on these issues at various levels.

A conference on the implementation of the Resolution will be organized by the French Presidency, in cooperation with the European Commission, near Paris in December 2008,

At this Council

Ministers are expected to adopt the Resolution.

Proposed Council Recommendation on the Mobility of Young Volunteers across European Union

Background

This Recommendation seeks closer cooperation between organisers of voluntary activities, improvement in the quality of volunteering experiences, invites further examination of relevant social protection provisions, and strengthens the recognition and promotion of youth volunteering. It complements the European Voluntary Service (EVS) which is recognised as a successful program for young people.

The Recommendation fully respects the diversity of traditions and practices in organising voluntary activities between different Member States. It will allow more young people to volunteer in another country of the European Union. This will enhance their knowledge of other countries, language skills, employability and will provide them with an interesting intercultural experience.

At this Council

Ministers are expected to adopt the Recommendation.

EDUCATION

Draft Council Resolution on a European strategy for multilingualism

NB: Multilingualism matters will be discussed by Culture Ministers on 20 November, see CULTURE for more information. Education Ministers are expected to adopt the Resolution on 21 November.

Draft Conclusions of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, on the future priorities for enhanced cooperation in European vocational education and training

Background

The main instrument for European cooperation in vocational education and training (VET) is the Copenhagen process. This process was initiated in 2002, when the education Ministers of 31 European countries, the European social partners and the European Commission adopted the Copenhagen Declaration on enhanced cooperation in European vocational education and training. The Copenhagen process calls for a review of the state of play every two years. This has taken place in Maastricht in 2004 and in Helsinki in 2006. The next review is scheduled to take place in Bordeaux on 25/26 November 2008, under the French Presidency.

The Conclusions will feed into the Communiqué to be agreed on 26 November in Bordeaux between the participating countries, the European Social Partners and the European Commission during an informal Council of Education ministers. In all the discussions leading up to the Bordeaux review, there is a general consensus that the Copenhagen process has been a success, and that we have now reached a phase in which the focus should be on consolidating the strategy, and implementing the principles and tools that have been built since 2002.

The Conclusions will introduce a new priority that aims to strengthen the links between VET and the labour market, an important aspect also with a view to the "New skills for new jobs" initiative on anticipating and matching labour market and skills needs. A Commission Communication with the same title is due in December 2008.

At this Council

Ministers are expected to adopt the Conclusions.

Draft Resolution of the Council on better integrating lifelong guidance into lifelong learning strategies

Background

The French Presidency proposes a resolution to further put in practice principles on the strengthening of policies, systems and practices in the field of guidance throughout life. These principles had already been agreed by the Council in a Resolution of 28 May 2004 but progress achieved across Europe since then has been uneven.

The new Resolution also takes into account results of a major conference organised by the French Presidency in Lyon on 17-18 September 2008. The conference confirmed that lifelong guidance is perceived as a vital field for policy actions to accompany people during many transitions they experience in today's European society. The importance of generalised access to quality guidance services is underlined, as is the need to equip people with necessary skills to take advantage of guidance and learning opportunities.

Key Actions:

The new Resolution proposes to take action around four priority areas:

1. Encourage the lifelong acquisition of career management skills;

2. Facilitate access by all citizens to guidance services;

3. Develop the quality assurance of guidance provision;

4. Encourage coordination and cooperation among the various stakeholders.

Member States should take advantage of the recently established European lifelong guidance policy network (ELGPN).

At this Council

Ministers will exchange their views and are expected to adopt the Resolution.

Draft Conclusions of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, on preparing young people for the 21st century: an agenda for European cooperation on schools

Background

In a clear sign of the growing importance of this issue at European level, the conclusions on schools policy set out Member States' response to the Commission's proposals in 'Improving Competences for the 21st Century: An Agenda for European Cooperation on Schools'

Those proposals for strengthened policy cooperation between Member States were based upon a public consultation and a thorough review of research evidence.

Member States are increasingly recognising the importance of the quality of school education in attaining their objectives for Growth and Jobs; school systems must adapt if they are to provide young people with new skills for new jobs. Many Member States are still not on track to meet the benchmarks they have set themselves in key areas such as improving reading literacy, reducing early school leaving, and increasing the rates of completion of secondary education. The quality of school systems, and the quality within each school system, is still often uneven; it is necessary to make sure that all young people can have access to the same quality of schooling. This is especially important because how well pupils do in school has a great impact on the opportunities they get later in life. This quality depends to a large extent upon the quality of teaching. That is why this Communication reinforces the Commission's view that Member States should implement their joint agenda for improving the Quality of Teacher Education.

Member States are responsible for the organisation and content of their education and training systems. By adopting these conclusions, they commit themselves to analyse the scale of the problem, and to cooperate more on improving performance on key issues such as improving literacy, extending access to pre-school provision, reducing the number of early school leavers and strengthening teacher education and school leadership.

Exchanges on this cooperation agenda will be undertaken through the Open Method of Coordination in education and training and supported by the Lifelong Learning Programme.

At this Council

Ministers are expected to debate and adopt these conclusions, thereby for the first time setting an agenda for future European cooperation on school education policy.

Draft Conclusions of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, on youth mobility

Background

Council discussions on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Erasmus in 2007 confirmed that Education Ministers wished to give new impetus to promoting learning mobility among young people; the French Presidency had signalled their wish to make this a Presidency priority. The Commission created late last year a High Level Expert Forum on mobility. It delivered in July a report proposing a major expansion of mobility opportunities across all segments of education and in the non-formal, voluntary area; and calling for a wider mobilisation (to go beyond EU programmes) to achieve the objective of making, in time, a learning mobility move a normal formative experience for all young people.

The Forum's report can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/education/doc/2008/mobilityreport_en.pdf

At this Council

Ministers will discuss and should adopt conclusions which confirm their broad agreement to the objectives proposed by the High Level Expert Forum, signalling their willingness to increase over time mobility opportunities for university students, school pupils, within the vocational and voluntary areas, and for teachers and trainers. The Commission will signal its intention to publish next year a Green Paper on how to mobilise wider support to implement this ambitious agenda.

ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Proposal for a Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a European Credit System for VET (ECVET) and Proposal for a Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for VET (EQARF)

Background

A proposal for a recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a European Credit System for VET (ECVET) was adopted by the Commission on 9 April 2008. When implemented, this tool will support and promote transnational mobility and access to lifelong and borderless learning in VET, by facilitating transfer and accumulation of learning outcomes achieved by individuals. ECVET will be adopted by MS on a voluntary basis. It will be compatible with the existing European credit system (ECTS) used in the Higher education sector. Vote of the European Parliament is planned for the 15 December. Adoption by the European Parliament and the Council can be done in the spring 2009.

Another tool, also adopted by the Commission on 9 April 2008, was a proposal for a recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for VET (EQARF). It is designed to support Member States in promoting and monitoring quality improvement in VET at different levels. It provides a common basis for further development of quality principles, reference criteria and indicators, as appropriate. The application of this tool is also voluntary. Vote of the European Parliament is planned for the 15 December. As for ECVET, adoption by the European Parliament and the Council can be done in the spring 2009.

At this Council

The state of progress will be presented regarding the adoption process of the two Recommendations.

Proposal for a Decision establishing an action programme for the enhancement of quality in higher education and the promotion of intercultural understanding through co-operation with third countries (Erasmus Mundus) (2009-2013)

Background

Since its inception in 2004, Erasmus Mundus has supported more than 100 European joint master programmes and has offered more than 7000 scholarships to international students and academics. The proposed decision establishing the second phase of the programme (2009-2013) was adopted by the Commission on 12 July 2007 and includes a four-fold expansion of the budget to nearly 1 billion euro.

The second phase of the programme will provide for the continuation of the existing actions, but will also bring important new elements. It will extend the scope of the programme to the doctoral level; it will enable third country universities to participate fully in joint programmes; and it will provide full study scholarships to European students to follow joint Erasmus Mundus master and doctorate courses. The new programme also incorporates the "Erasmus Mundus External Cooperation Window". Partnerships funded under this action will continue to allow for the transfer of know-how and exchanges of students and professors at all levels of higher education. They will continue to respect the needs and priorities of the countries concerned, thus contributing to their development.

The Commission expects the formal legislative procedures to be finalised by the end of 2008, so that the first call for proposals can be launched at the beginning of 2009. This will ensure the smooth continuation of existing courses and the selection of new joint programmes.

At this Council

The Presidency will describe the state of play of negotiations on this co-decision file.


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