BRUSSELS, 15 February - The Irish Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD, chaired the EU Council of Education Ministers in Brussels today. In response to the European Commission’s recent communication on ‘Rethinking Education’, European Education Ministers adopted Conclusions on "Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes" and the 2013 Annual Growth Survey. The Minister also gave an update on negotiations on a successor programme to the Lifelong Learning Programme.
The Commission communication calls for a reorganisation of European education and training systems so that they can provide the right skills for today's world, particularly in a context of persistently high levels of youth unemployment across the EU. The 2013 Annual Growth Survey, which launches the six-month cycle of economic policy coordination in the EU, the "European Semester", was also addressed in the Council conclusions.
Minister Quinn updated his European colleagues on the progress of negotiations on a successor programme to the multi-billion Lifelong Learning Programme, part of the Multi-annual Financial Framework from 2014-2020.
The importance and relevance of the Union's action in the fields of education, training and youth, particularly in these tough economic times, cannot be underestimated.”
Agreement on this Programme by the Council and European Parliament during the Irish Presidency means that preparations can begin in good time to enable the Programme to enter into force, as scheduled, on 1 January 2014.
Speaking in Brussels today, Minister Quinn said:
“Agreement on the Programme marks a significant step forward. Given the popularity and success of the current Lifelong Learning, Youth in Action and other existing programmes, the importance and relevance of the Union's action in the fields of education, training and youth, particularly in these tough economic times, cannot be underestimated.”
Renowned film maker and Chancellor of the Open University Lord David Puttnam and OECD deputy director for Education Andreas Schleicher were guest speakers at today’s meeting during the debate on “Education & Skills for Jobs, Stability and Growth”.
This was the first of two Education Council meetings to be held under the Irish Presidency, the second will be in May.
A number of legislative priorities in education have been identified for the course of the Presidency:
- Regulation establishing "Erasmus for All”
- New Directive to amend Directive 2005/36 on the recognition of professional qualifications
- Regulation on the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF)
- Decision on the Strategic Innovation Agenda of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) & Regulation amending 2008 Regulation which established the EIT