Brussels, Friday, 22 November
Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council (25-26 November)
What are the advantages of open educational resources and massive open online course (MOOCs)? How can students benefit more from increased international cooperation in higher education? What role can the EU play in ensuring independent regulation of the media? How can more people be encouraged to exercise to improve their health? These and many more topics will be discussed at the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council on 25–26 November.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "Improving the prospects of our young people is at the top of the EU's agenda, and this will be a central focus of the meeting, whether we are talking about education policy, youth work or sport. I am particularly looking forward to hearing Ministers' views on our new Opening up Education strategy to increase the use of technology in education and training."
Education and training
This Council meeting will be the first time that Education Ministers formally discuss Opening up Education, the Commission's new action plan to address the challenges which hamper schools and universities from delivering high quality education and the digital skills which 90% of jobs will require by 2020. European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes and Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou will participate in a joint debate on Open Educational Resources and digital learning.
The Ministers are also expected to adopt the European higher education in the World strategy which aims to ensure that European graduates gain the international skills they need to work anywhere in the world and that Europe remains the most attractive destination for international students.
Finally, Ministers will discuss ways in which Member States can support the teaching profession and educational leadership. The need to promote effective leadership in schools and vocational training establishments is a priority for the Lithuanian Presidency.
Ministers are expected to adopt conclusions on enhancing the social inclusion of young people who are not in employment, education or training. These emphasise the role that youth work can play in helping to ensure the inclusion of young people and to improve their employability. Member States and the Commission will be invited to establish and implement strategies in the areas of education, training, non-formal learning and employment.
Ministers will also discuss the future EU Work Plan for Youth. The Work Plan aims to guide youth policy and to strengthen ties with other policies such as education, training and employment. It will also help to better implement the EU Youth Strategy.
On 26 November, Sport Ministers are expected to adopt a Council Recommendation on health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) – the first at EU level in the field of sport. The core of this new initiative is a monitoring framework, with 23 indicators, which will help Member States to collate information on HEPA levels and improve policies. The Recommendation will build on existing schemes to promote sport and health and will involve close cooperation with the World Health Organization. The Commission will also provide financial support through the sport budget within Erasmus+.
Ministers are also set to adopt conclusions on the how sport contributes to the EU economy, and how it can help to address youth unemployment and social inclusion. The sport sector is a labour-intensive growth industry which employs many young people. It can also improve employability by providing specific skills and experience. The Conclusions address the role of sport in this context, also taking account of a 2012 study on the contribution of sport to economic growth and employment in the EU.
Also meeting on 26 November, Culture Ministers are expected to reach a general approach on the Commission’s proposal concerning the return of unlawfully removed cultural objects. The changes include an extension of the deadline for restitution claims and a provision requiring the possessor to prove that the cultural object was not knowingly acquired illegally. Information sharing between national authorities on the movement of culturally significant objects would also be improved.
Vice-President Kroes will outline the latest online trends, including the outcomes of a recent Commission consultation on 'media convergence'.
She will also address the specific need for greater transparency of media ownership in Europe and the need for independent regulators, as part of a broader discussion on media freedom and pluralism.
Erasmus+ and Creative Europe
The European Commission’s new programmes for 2014-2020 were adopted by the European Parliament on 19 November.
Erasmus+, the new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport, due to begin in January, is aimed at boosting skills, employability and supporting the modernisation of education, training and youth systems. The seven-year programme will have a budget of €14.7 billion1 - 40% higher than current levels. More than 4 million people will receive support to study, train, work or volunteer abroad, including 2 million higher education students, 650 000 vocational training students and apprentices, as well as more than 500 000 going on youth exchanges or volunteering abroad.
European culture, cinema, television, music, literature, performing arts, heritage and related areas will benefit from increased support under the European Commission's new Creative Europe programme. With a budget of €1.46 billion2 over the next seven years – 9% more than current levels – the programme will provide a boost for the cultural and creative sectors, which are a major source of jobs and growth. Creative Europe will provide funding for at least 250 000 artists and cultural professionals, 2 000 cinemas, 800 films and 4 500 book translations. It will also launch a new financial guarantee facility enabling small cultural and creative businesses to access up to €750 million in bank loans.
The European Capitals of Culture, European Heritage Label, European Heritage Days and the five European Union prizes (EU Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards, EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture, EU Prize for Literature, European Border Breakers Awards, and EU MEDIA Prize) will also receive support from Creative Europe.
The Council is expected to adopt both programmes in early December.
Amount in current prices taking account of estimated inflation in 2014-2020. This is equivalent of €13 billion in fixed/constant 2011 prices.
€1.46 billion taking account of estimated inflation. This is the equivalent of €1.3 billion in 'fixed' 2011 prices.