Brussels, 15 May 2013
Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council (16-17 May)
Is the European Union's youth policy up to the job in today's difficult economic and social climate? Can the European Union do more to help sports organisations tackle doping? Will the proposed EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership affect the EU's commitment to cultural diversity? These are just some of the issues which will be in the spotlight at the Council for Education, Youth, Culture and Sport on 16-17 May. The European Commission will be represented by Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou (Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth), and Vice-President Joaquín Almunia (Competition), who will participate in an exchange of views on the planned new State aid rules for cinema. Ministers are expected to adopt conclusions on maximising the impact of youth policy for growth and jobs.
"Equipping young people with the skills they need to improve their employability is our top priority. Education in all its forms is the basis for these skills and high-quality youth work can make a real difference. We are supporting Member States with funding from a variety of EU programmes. Our new education and youth programme, Erasmus for All, will enable nearly 4 million young people to gain valuable international experience and skills by providing grants to study, train or volunteer abroad," said Commissioner Vassiliou ahead of the meeting.
Education, Erasmus for All and Youth
On 16 May, the Council is expected adopt conclusions on the social dimension of higher education. Many countries share the Commission's concern about high drop-out rates and the need for a better alignment between what is being taught in higher education and the diverse learning requirements of students. The Council will invite Member States to adopt national measures to ensure that people from all social groups can access and successfully complete higher education. These measures include improved financial support and counselling for students, providing more opportunities to transfer from vocational training to higher education, and increasing the flexibility of courses to make it easier to combine work and studies. The Irish Presidency will update Ministers on the negotiations between the Council, European Parliament and Commission on Erasmus for All, the new programme for education, training, youth and sport, due for launch in January. The programme is expected to have a budget of around €14.5 billion for 2014-2020 - 40% more than the current programmes.
Over lunch, the Commissioner will take part in a 'structured dialogue' with Ministers and the European Youth Forum. The dialogue, which gives youth representatives a say in shaping European youth policy, is a follow-up to the EU Youth Conference which took place in Dublin in March and which focused on the contribution of youth work to social inclusion and employability.
Culture and audiovisual
Cultural. audiovisual and sport issues will be addressed on 17 May. In addition to an exchange of views on the proposed EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and cinema communication, Ministers are expected to give the green light to a continuation of the European Capital of Culture initiative, on the basis of the Commission's proposal. The proposal lists the countries which will host the title from 2020 to 2033. The Council will also officially designate Aarhus and Paphos as European Capitals of Culture in 2017, as well as Valletta in 2018. The other European Capital of Culture for 2018, which will be a city in the Netherlands, will be designated next year.
Commissioner Vassiliou will join Ministers and representatives from the sport movement in a lunchtime structured dialogue focused on the fight against doping.
Among those taking part in the debate will be Travis Tygart, CEO, US Anti-Doping Authority (USADA), Pat McQuaid, President, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), Pat Hickey, President, European Olympic Committee (EOC), and David Howman, Director General, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
The Council will also adopt conclusions on 'dual careers' for athletes, which aim to ensure that sportspeople are prepared for life after their sports careers are over. The idea is to encourage them to continue with education or vocational training in tandem with their sports training. The conclusions build on the EU Guidelines on Dual Careers of Athletes, which outline policy measures in support of dual careers in high-performance sport.
The EU Youth Strategy (2010-18) has two main objectives: to provide more and equal opportunities for young people in education and in the job market and to encourage young people to be active citizens in society. Youth work helps to address the challenging situations faced by many young people by offering targeted support, non-formal learning through volunteering opportunities and the opportunity to get involved in youth organisations. The Commission will publish the results of a study on the impact of youth work this autumn.
Commissioner Vassiliou will participate in the following press events:
Press 'doorstep' with Ruairi Quinn, Minister for Education and Skills, 13:00, VIP entrance.
Press conference with Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, following the dialogue with the European Youth Forum, 14:45, Council press room.
Press conference with Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 13:30, Council press room.
Press conference with Michael Ring, Minister for Sport, and representatives of the sports movement following the dialogue on doping, 14:45, Council press room.