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Brussels, 11 May 2009
This Memo provides journalists with an overview, from the Commission's point of view, of the issues that will be discussed at the "Education, Youth Affairs and Culture" Council on 11-12 May 2009 in Brussels. Youth ministers start in the afternoon of 11 May. Education ministers will convene in the morning of 12 May. The Culture Ministers will follow in the afternoon, when they will also discuss audiovisual items. The Commission will be represented by Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for Administrative Affairs, Ján Figel', Commissioner responsible for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, and Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media.
Evaluation of the current framework for European co-operation in the youth field and on future perspectives for the renewed framework
The inclusion of ‘Youth’ in EU policy making is a relatively recent development, with a framework of co-operation having been adopted in 2002, to remain in force until 2009.
An overall assessment, carried out in consultation with Member States, of the general co-operation in the youth field and of the application of the Open Method of Coordination has generally been positive, with achievements noted at both European and national level.
The current co-operation has also shown some limits: for example, there is low awareness of EU youth co-operation and delivery could be stronger in some areas. The framework could be made clearer and more coherent, with better recognition of the cross-sectoral nature of youth policy, while the structured dialogue with youth needs to become more inclusive.
Taking into consideration the opinions of the Member States and youth stakeholders, the European Commission, on 27 April 2009, adopted a new EU strategy for youth "Youth – Investing and Empowering" which sets out a new and improved framework of co-operation for the forthcoming decade.
The new EU youth strategy outlines how the framework of co-operation will become more flexible and will reinforce links with policy areas such as "growth and jobs". The Commission proposes to employ a cross-sectoral approach encompassing all youth related issues: youth education, employment, creativity and entrepreneurship, inclusion, health and sport, participation, volunteering and youth global engagement. It emphasises the important role of youth work in tackling the many challenges faced by young people. Structured dialogue is also reinforced, and Member States are invited to organise a permanent and regular dialogue with young people. The Commission aims at a more evidence-based youth policy and has taken a first step in this direction with the first "EU Youth Report", which includes detailed data and analysis on youth.
At this Council
Ministers are expected to adopt conclusions of the Council which will evaluate the past co-operation cycle in youth policy and define the shape and priorities of the future framework, as well as the improvement of the tools (Open Method of Coordination, Youth Pact, cross-sectoral approach and structured dialogue) that will be deployed.
European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) and European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training (EQARF)
Credit transfer: The objective of the European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) is to support and promote transnational mobility and access to lifelong learning in vocational education and training. It aims to respond to the real needs of individuals, but also those of the labour market and society as a whole. It will support the possibility for learners, young people in initial training, apprentices or adults in continuing training to build individual learning pathways leading to qualifications.
When implemented, this tool will support and promote transnational mobility and access to lifelong and borderless learning in vocational education and training, by facilitating transfer and accumulation of learning outcomes achieved by individuals. ECVET will be adopted by Member States on a voluntary basis.
More on credit transfer/ECVET:
Quality assurance: The European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training (EQARF) will help to continuously improve vocational education and training. Quality assurance underpins every policy initiative in this field by helping to build mutual trust, by modernising systems and by improving the effectiveness of training.
EQARF is designed to support Member States in promoting and monitoring quality improvement 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 by Member States is voluntary.
More on quality assurance /EQARF:
At this council
Ministers are expected to adopt the two Recommendations.
Enhancing partnerships between education and training institutions and employers in the context of lifelong learning
The issue of closer co-operation between the world of education and the world of work has been on the agenda of the Member States and of the European Commission for some time. The Czech Presidency has made the topic one of its priorities in the field of education.
The Czech Presidency hosted a flagship conference on this theme in Prague on 6-7 April 2009. The conclusions and findings of the conference provided important input to the proposed Council conclusions.
The European Commission adopted on 2 April 2009 a Communication on "A new partnership for the modernisation of universities: the EU Forum for University–Business Dialogue", another important source of input to the conclusions. One important activity in the follow-up of the Communication will be the possible extension of the scope of the current Forum to other sectors of education and training, fully in line with the proposed Council conclusions.
At this council
Ministers are expected to adopt the conclusions on strengthening the partnership between education and training institutions and employers in the context of lifelong learning. The Commission supports the view of the Presidency and hopes that these conclusions will provide additional stimulus and motivation to further develop co-operation between the worlds of education and work.
Strategic Framework for European Co-operation in education and training ("ET 2020")
In a Communication adopted on 16 December 2008, the Commission set out a new framework for co-operation in education and training, complementary to the Lisbon Strategy and the renewed Social Agenda.
On the basis of this proposal, the Council will now adopt conclusions which will serve as a basis for the open method of coordination in education and training in the years to 2020.
The Council and the Commission agree to address four strategic challenges in the years to 2020:
The conclusions will also outline the most urgent priorities which merit particular attention for 2009 and 2011 and suggest improved tools to meet them. These include a renewed set of education and training benchmarks for monitoring progress across Europe.
At this Council
Ministers will adopt conclusions which will serve as a basis for policy co-operation in education and training until 2020.
Information point on the European Schools
The Swedish delegation, which currently chairs the Board of Governors of the European Schools, will present the key elements of the reform of the European Schools agreed at the Board of Governors' meeting in Stockholm on the 23rd of April. Vice-President Siim Kallas, the Commissioner in charge of administrative affairs, will attend the meeting as representative of the European Institutions on the Board of Governors.
Culture as a catalyst for creativity and innovation
For the first time the Council adopts Conclusions focusing on the links between culture, creativity and innovation.
The initiative should be read at different levels. Its core objective is to encourage further implementation of the second strategic objective of the European Agenda for culture (promotion of culture as a catalyst for creativity in the framework of the Lisbon Strategy for growth, employment, innovation and competitiveness). At the same time, it is set against the backdrop of the European Year on Creativity and Innovation, while also connecting with the current reflection on the next phase of the Lisbon strategy after 2010 and the preparation of a European plan for innovation.
The Conclusions point out that strategic investment in culture is vital for strengthening a dynamic creative economy and society, for creating jobs and enabling the fulfilment of the Lisbon goals. Member States and the European Commission are invited to foster the potential of cultural policies to promote creativity and strengthen the ties between culture and other policy areas such as innovation, education, cohesion, and research. The Commission is invited to explore further the largely underestimated links between culture, creativity, innovation and the wider economy and society, better taking into account the specific contribution of culture and the stimulus this can bring to other sectors.
At this Council
Ministers are expected to adopt the conclusions on culture as a catalyst for creativity and innovation.
Council Decision on the European Capital of Culture event for the year 2012
In accordance with the relevant Decision regarding the European Capitals of culture (1622/2006/EC) Portugal and Slovenia were entitled to make proposals of cities for the 2012 European Capital of culture title. Portugal proposed Guimarães, and Slovenia proposed Maribor.
Both applications were assessed by the relevant panel of independent experts against the criteria mentioned in Decision 1622/2006/EC, which regard the European dimension of the proposed programme and its attractiveness, as well as how participation in the event of citizens both living in the city and from abroad is fostered.
On the basis of an overall evaluation the panel – while suggesting some improvements – reached a consensus to recommend to the Institutions of the European Union that Guimarães and Maribor host the European Capital of Culture in 2012.
At this Council
The Council is expected to designate Guimarães and Maribor as the 2012 European Capitals of Culture.
Council Decision on the European Capital of Culture event for the year 2013
In accordance with the relevant Decision regarding the European Capitals of culture (1622/2006/EC) France and Slovakia are entitled to host the 2013 European Capitals of culture. This title is the first one designated under the new process, namely a two round competition managed by the Member State concerned.
On the basis of the relevant criteria for the event laid down by Decision 1622/2006/EC, Marseille-Provence in France and Košice in Slovakia were assessed by the panel as the best proposals out of all applications submitted and won the two-round competition in France and Slovakia respectively. They were recommended to France and Slovakia by the panel for the 2013 title. Both Member States forwarded these proposals to the European Institutions.
At this Council
The Council is expected to designate Marseille-Provence and Košice as the 2013 European Capitals of Culture.
There is one key audiovisual item on the agenda for this Council:
Content online in the Single Market and Media Literacy
On 3 January 2008, the Commission adopted a Communication on "Creative Content Online in Europe's Single Market" (IP/08/5). At the end of 2008, Member States recognised the importance of developing a legal online content offer which is diverse, high quality, accessible, easy to use and consumer friendly, while also preventing and combating violations of intellectual property rights. With this in mind, Member States were encouraged to find concrete, effective, fair and proportionate solutions.
At this Council
The Ministers will present the steps the respective Member States have taken to help develop legal offers and tackle the problems of intellectual property violations, in light of last year's conclusions. They will discuss the possible impact government action may have on the development of future media innovations. The ministers will also discuss the effectiveness of past measures introduced in their countries and possible solutions for promoting greater variety and better accessibility of legal measures, while also protecting the interests of right holders.
In December 2007, the Commission adopted a Communication on media literacy (IP/07/1970). In May 2008, the Council urged Member States to take a number of actions to develop media literacy by involving appropriate audiovisual and telecommunications authorities, promoting codes of conduct and research by stakeholders, promoting awareness initiatives, and promoting media literacy in the framework of their lifelong learning strategies, including through peer learning and the exchange of best practices between teaching professionals.
At this Council
The ministers will discuss the best ways to improve media literacy in the Member States and the possible initiatives that could be launched at EU level to do this.
MEDIA Mundus programme
On 9 January 2009, the European Commission proposed the MEDIA Mundus programme, a new international cooperation programme for the audiovisual industry with the goal to strengthen cultural and commercial relations between Europe's film industry and filmmakers of third countries (IP/09/26). The MEDIA Mundus programme will run from 2011-2013. The European Parliament voted the final text of the MEDIA Mundus programme on 7 May 2009, thereby paving the way for a first reading agreement with the Council. The final adoption of the proposal is foreseen at a Council meeting in June 2009.
At this Council
The Czech Presidency will inform ministers on the state-of-play on the outcome of the first reading agreement with the EP.
The Presidency will debrief Ministers on the results of the media literacy Conference "The responsibilities of content providers and users" which took place on 18-20 March 2009 in Prague.
Germany will present an informal paper on the issue of Google books and copyright.