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Brussels, 25 November 2009

Education, Youth Affairs and Culture Council, 26-27 November 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 26-27 November 2009 in Brussels. The Commission will be represented by Maroš Šefčovič, the Commissioner responsible for Education, Training, Culture and Youth.


Professional development of teachers and school leaders


Reflecting the importance of this issue in Europe, this is the third time in three years that the education of teachers has been the focus of Council Conclusions.

These conclusions arise from the consensus reached during the informal meeting of Education ministers in Göteborg in September 2009 and reflect the importance for successful education systems of the work of teachers and school leaders.

The Conclusions invite Member States to find ways to attract the best candidates into teaching and to give all new teachers a programme of professional and personal support ('induction') to help them succeed in the first difficult years in the profession.

They propose that teachers continuously review the effectiveness of their work and that each teacher's development needs be regularly reviewed, and matched to appropriate training and development opportunities. This requires there to be high quality training provision available that develops the knowledge, skills and attitudes of teachers and school leaders. So that school leaders can focus on the core task of improving learning, it is proposed that their administrative burden be reviewed.

The Commission is asked to step up its provision for peer learning for policymakers on these issues and to report to the Council about the follow-up by Member States of Council Conclusions of 2007 and 2008 concerning the professional development of teachers and school leaders.

At this Council

Ministers are expected to adopt these conclusions.

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Education of children with a migrant background


The European Council in March 2008 highlighted the need to improve achievement levels for learners with a migrant background. There have been very significant increases in inward migration into many Member States in the past few years, which present important opportunities and challenges for their school systems. The Commission's response was the Green Paper 'Migration & Mobility: challenges and opportunities for EU education systems', (July 2008), followed by a consultation report and stakeholder conference (October 2009). Both confirmed that Member States face common challenges and the added value of European co-operation in the area to learn from each others' best practice.

The Conclusions, in line with the results of the public consultation, identify key areas for action at national level:

  • policies for teaching the host country language to non-native speakers, and options for supporting migrants' mother tongues;

  • partnerships with migrant communities and communication with parents;

  • reduce differences in quality across schools through support for underperforming schools;

  • intercultural competences and skills in dealing with diversity for teachers and school leaders;

  • anti-discrimination mechanisms;

  • permeability of education pathways;

  • access to high quality early childhood education and care;

  • personalised learning and individual support;

  • adapting teaching methods and materials;

  • additional support for migrant pupils with special needs.

The Conclusions invite the Commission to facilitate and support co-operation through the open method of coordination and through existing Community programmes, and to monitor the achievement gap between native learners and learners with a migrant background.

At this Council

Ministers will exchange their views on measures supporting the education of pupils from a migrant background and are expected to adopt the conclusions.

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Messages from the EYC Council in the field of education as a contribution to the discussion on the post-2010 Lisbon Strategy


The Swedish Presidency proposed a contribution from the education and training ministers to the current debate on the future EU 2020 strategy in the form of Council messages.

The proposed key messages stress the importance of

  • continuing investment in quality education and training during the economic downturn;

  • meeting the objectives established within the open method of co-ordination (OMC) in education and training ('Education & Training 2020' strategic framework) and ensuring a strong role for education and training in the post-2010 Lisbon strategy;

  • close interaction between the three sides of the knowledge triangle (education - research - innovation) in order to strengthen Europe's innovative capacity.

At this Council

Ministers are expected to adopt the Council messages.

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Developing the role of education in a fully-functioning knowledge triangle


The knowledge triangle consisting of higher education, research and innovation is crucial for Europe's competitiveness in a creative and knowledge-intensive economy and society. Better integrating the three sides will mean that European universities, research centres and businesses develop the critical mass and interactions necessary to be at the forefront of innovation in the future.

Initiatives promoting the integration of a fully functioning knowledge triangle, for example the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), are therefore an important contribution to the success of the EU's renewed Lisbon Strategy, focussing on growth and jobs.

At this Council

Ministers are expected to adopt these Conclusions

Diversity and transparency - drivers for excellence in European higher education


Following a request from the 2006 Recommendation of the Council and the E uropean Parliament on further co-operation in quality assurance in higher education, the European Commission has published a first triennial Report on progress made in this area. In the Report the Commission indicates that quality assurance has developed enormously both at national and European level. However, the Commission concludes that the European dimension of quality assurance is still too limited. There are only a few examples of institutions seeking evaluations or accreditations from foreign agencies and only some governments starting to open up quality assurance to foreign registered agencies. As a result there is little comparative information available for stakeholders, in particular students and institutional management, hindering both mobility and quality improvement.

For this reason the Commission suggests:

  • to make the quality assurance infrastructure more efficient and transparent for the users

  • to fine-tune the European Standards and Guidelines with the tools and objectives of Bologna

  • to stimulate institutions to go cross-border, for example by developing more European Quality Seals and principles for cross-border education, double- and joint degrees, avoiding the need for multiple accreditations.

In the report the Commission also signals the need for development of other transparency tools, complementing quality assurance, in particular those providing a more comparative view.

For this reason the Commission supports a range of projects on developing such transparency instruments, such as a project on the classification of institutional profiles and the feasibility study on the design and testing of a multi-dimensional global ranking of universities.

In a background note for the EYC Council, entitled "diversity and transparency - drivers for excellence in European Higher Education" the Swedish EU Presidency has further elaborated on the role of quality assurance and transparency instruments.

At this Council

Based on the presentation of the Progress Report on Quality Assurance and the Swedish background note on "diversity and transparency", the ministers and the Commissioner will have an open discussion on:

  • what needs to be done to reinforce the European dimension of quality assurance as a driver for recognition of qualifications and mobility

  • the need for development of more sophisticated and respected transparency instruments, providing reliable and comparative information to stakeholders.

No formal Council conclusions are envisaged. However, the outcomes of the debate will give input for the follow-up to the Progress Report on quality assurance and the Commission initiatives in developing transparency instruments.

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Promoting a creative generation - developing the creativity and innovative capacity of children and young people through cultural expression and access to culture


The Conclusions reflect, on one hand, the focus of the Swedish Presidency on culture and youth and, on the other, the general objectives of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation.

With this initiative the Council highlights a range of policies through which culture can help equipping the 'digital-born' generation with the skills and competences required to address current and future challenges ( i.e. communication, creative, intercultural, entrepreneurial skills). Access to culture and participation in cultural activities, including arts education, are recognised as key channels for stimulating and developing the creativity and capacity of innovation of children and young people.

Six priorities of horizontal nature are identified:

  • Include a Children and Young People perspective in relevant policies to promote culture

  • Optimise the potential of the education sector to enhance the promotion of creativity through culture and cultural expression

  • Encourage and support cultural institutions (e.g. museums, libraries, galleries, theatres) to better engage with children and young people

  • Promote talent and creativity through culture as part of social inclusion strategies catering for children and young people

  • Promote better access to culture through the use of ICTs for all children and young people

  • Facilitate the exchange of good practices and develop an 'evidence base' of knowledge in this field

Specific recommendations concern developing partnerships between the culture sector and other sectors, facilitating access to cultural heritage including through digitisation (and the Europeana digital library), exploiting the potential of culture for social inclusion strategies (i.e. talent development), developing media literacy. Promoting exchange of good practices in the above areas is an overarching objective.

At this Council

The Ministers are expected to adopt the conclusions.

Council Decision on the European Year of Voluntary Activities Promoting Active Citizenship (2011)


Volunteering is an important dimension of citizen's participation in public life. It promotes social cohesion and provides learning opportunities for the volunteers as well as a multitude of benefits for society at large. The European Commission has been committed to promoting volunteering for a long time. A milestone was achieved with the establishment of the European Voluntary Service in 1996 as part of the Youth in Action Programme. The European Year of Voluntary Activities Promoting Active Citizenship in 2011 will be the next step in the Commission's efforts to increase volunteering in Europe and to help civil society, local and regional communities and Member States to achieve the following objectives:

  • Work towards an enabling and facilitating environment for volunteering in the EU;

  • Empower volunteer organisations and improve the quality of volunteering;

  • Reward and recognise volunteering activities; and

  • Raise awareness of the value and importance of volunteering.

The European Year of Voluntary Activities Promoting Active Citizenship is widely supported by civil society and the European Parliament and is envisaged as a bottom-up campaign, in which civil society will play a large role in ensuring the success of the Year.

At this Council

Ministers are expected to adopt the Decision.


Renewed framework for European co-operation in the youth field (2010-2018)


This Resolution invites both the Member States and the Commission to develop European co-operation in the youth field and defines two overall objectives of the new framework:

  • More and equal opportunities for young people in education and in the labour market

  • Active citizenship, social inclusion and solidarity of young people

It outlines initiatives to help young people to face opportunities and challenges in eight new fields of action: education and training, employment and entrepreneurship, health and well-being, participation, voluntary activities, social inclusion, youth and the world, creativity and culture.

The Resolution employs a dual approach to develop and promote specific initiatives in the youth field and mainstreaming initiatives in the cross-sectoral dimension. Different policy sectors will now work together to provide more opportunities for young people.

Member States agree to setting up a dialogue with youth and a working group to propose indicators on youth.

This Resolution and the "Youth on the Move" initiative recently proposed by President Barroso shows the prominence of youth affairs on the EU political agenda.

At this Council

Ministers are expected to debate and adopt the Resolution.

To know more:


Implementation of the Education and Training 2010 work programme: 2010 joint interim report of the Council and the Commission


The Commission on 2 -5 November 2009 adopted its contribution to the forthcoming Joint Progress Report of the Council and the Commission, which will be published in 2010. This report measures progress towards the implementation of the "Education & Training 2010 work programme" during the period 2007-2009 and will look at areas where co-operation between EU countries has led to improvements as well as those where progress remains insufficient. It is based on a detailed assessment of national reports and performance against a set of indicators and benchmarks.

The main focus of the reporting is on the provision of key competences for young and adult learners. But information is also provided on the implementation of lifelong learning policies (e.g. qualification frameworks), reforms which aim at making vocational education and training more attractive and relevant to labour market needs, and of measures to modernise higher education. The progress report will highlight the importance of reform and continuous investment in education and training as a major contribution to the emergence from the current economic crisis and to more growth and jobs in Europe in the long term.

At this Council

The draft joint progress report will be presented to the Ministers.

To know more

Additional sources:

Website of Maroš Šefčovič , Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth

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