Brussels, 23 November 2012
Council for Education, Youth, Culture and Sport (26-27 November)
The Council for Education, Youth, Culture and Sport takes place in Brussels on 26-27 November. The Council will take note of the state of play of the European Commission's proposals for the 'Erasmus for All' and 'Creative Europe' programmes, which will start in 2014. Neelie Kroes, Vice-President responsible for the Digital Agenda, Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President responsible for Competition, and Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will represent the Commission. Commissioner Vassiliou will take part in a press conference at 13:00 on 26 November and at around 14:30 on 27 November.
Monday, 26 November
The negotiations on the Commission's proposed Erasmus for All programme for education, training, youth and sport (IP/11/1398) are making good progress. The next step is the adoption of the position of the European Parliament's Culture and Education Committee on Tuesday, 27 November. The proposed programme would significantly increase investment in education and youth, allowing up to 5 million people to study, train or volunteer abroad between 2014 and 2020. This experience increases employability by boosting skills and versatility in languages, inter-cultural awareness and communication. The new programme will also support EU policy priorities in education, such as reducing early school leaving and low achievement in reading, mathematics and science, as well as promoting an increase in the share of young people obtaining tertiary qualifications.
Recently more than 100 European personalities from all 27 Member States published an open letter urging the EU Heads of State and Government to secure funding for the Erasmus programme and future Erasmus for All and give it the necessary resources (IP/12/1192).
Ministers are expected to adopt conclusions on the role of education and training for economic recovery and growth – a position which is also reflected in the Commission's new initiative on Rethinking Education (IP/12/1233) which calls for strong action to combat youth unemployment and more focus in education on learning outcomes – in other words, equipping young people with the skills needed to boost jobs and growth.
Ministers are also expected to support the recommendations of the EU's High-Level Group on Literacy (IP/12/940). At present, one in five 15 year olds, as well as nearly 75 million adults, lack basic reading and writing skills (the EU wants to reduce this figure to under 15% by 2020). Next year the Commission intends to establish a network of literacy organisations and to publish a report on how to tackle low achievement in basic skills such as literacy, maths and sciences. Ministers are also expected to put in place systems to ensure the validation of non-formal and informal learning experiences because traditional qualifications, covering what is learned in school or university, do not always reflect an individual's real knowledge and talent (IP/12/936).
The negotiations on the Commission's proposed Creative Europe programme for culture and film (IP/11/1399) are also making solid progress. Culture Ministers are expected to discuss the state of play, in particular on the new guarantee fund which will help small businesses and organisations from all cultural and creative sectors to more easily obtain bank loans. The Commission plans to invest €200 million in the fund, with the aim of generating €1 billion in bank loans. The fund will complement the existing system of grant support and would be managed by the European Investment Fund (EIF).
Funding for the film industry by Member States (totalling around €3 billion per year) is assessed under State aid rules which are due to expire at the end of December 2012. Vice-President Joaquín Almunia will update the Culture Ministers about the Commission's forthcoming 'Cinema Communication' which will set out the new rules.
Ministers will also discuss the Commission's proposal for extending the European Capitals of Culture initiative. The current scheme runs until 2019 and the proposal lists the countries which will nominate cities for the title up to 2033. In addition to two Member States sharing the title each year, EU candidate or potential candidate countries would be able to host a European Capital of Culture every third year (IP12/815).
Ministers are expected to adopt conclusions on cultural governance highlighting the importance of evidence-based policy-making and the need to develop integrated strategies to boost the potential of the cultural and creative sectors, which account for between 3.3% and 4.5% of GDP and up to 8.5 million jobs in the EU.
Better Internet for Children
Vice-President Neelie Kroes, responsible for the Digital Agenda, is due to welcome the Council's conclusions on the Commission's Communication on a European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children (IP/12/445), which grouped action around four main goals
To stimulate the production of creative and educational online content for children and develop platforms which give access to age-appropriate content
To scale up awareness raising and teaching of online safety in all EU schools to develop children's digital and media literacy and self-responsibility online
To create a safe environment for children where parents and children are given the tools necessary for ensuring their protection online – such as easy-to-use mechanisms to report harmful content and conduct online, transparent default age-appropriate privacy settings or user-friendly parental controls;
To combat child sexual abuse material online by promoting research into, and use of, innovative technical solutions by police investigations.
Ministers will also hold a policy debate on how best governments should engage with industry to develop their products and services in a way that both empowers and protects children and to what extent national initiatives could be coordinated at European level. Vice-President Kroes will stress the shared responsibility of all players in making the internet safer for children, whilst calling on industry to step up its efforts in this respect. She will reiterate the Commission's belief that the most effective response comes from self-regulation and enhanced cooperation between governments and industry.
Tuesday, 27 November
Ministers are expected to adopt a resolution on the 'structured dialogue' with youth representatives and the strengthening of youth participation in democratic life. Over
45 000 youth leaders and young people from all Member States were involved in this consultation process from July 2011 to December 2012. In 2011 the EU's Youth in Action programme provided €6.5 million to support around 300 projects linked to the dialogue, involving 20 000 participants. The next cycle of the dialogue will focus on social inclusion. Ministers are also expected to adopt the EU Youth Report (IP/12/948) which would establish new youth policy priorities for the next three years, namely youth employment, social inclusion and health and well-being.
Sport Ministers are expected to adopt a strategy to combat match-fixing. Starting from next year, the Commission will provide €1 million in support of five projects aimed at boosting action to prevent match-fixing. The projects will be led by FIFPro, the International Federation of Professional Footballers (grant: €180 000), Transparency International (€300 000), the International Rugby Board (€60 000), European Elite Athletes Association (€230 000), and the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (€275 000).
Ministers are also expected to agree on who will represent the EU on the Foundation Board of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The EU will have three representatives – from the incumbent Trio Presidency (Ireland, Lithuania, Greece), the future Trio Presidency (Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg) and a national expert from Portugal.
The Ministers are expected to adopt conclusions on promoting health-enhancing physical activity to address very high levels of physical inactivity (surveys show that 60% of Europeans seldom or never exercise). The Commission intends to launch an annual European Week of Sport to raise awareness of the health and social benefits of sport and physical activity. Ministers are also expected to suggest that the EU's Physical Activity Guidelines are updated next year.
They are also expected to adopt conclusions on sport's contribution to generating growth and jobs in Europe. As a sector, sport contributes almost 2% of total EU gross value added. They will also call for improvements in the collection of data on the social and economic aspects of sport and invite Eurostat to support this.