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Printed: 21.09.2019.

PrintEuropean Education Area by 2025: potentials for growth, jobs and unity

Eugene Eteris, European Studies Faculty, RSU, BC International Editor, Riga/Copenhagen, 15.11.2017.
European Commission has formulated its vision on creating a European Education Area by 2025. With the debate on the future of Europe in full swing, the Commission’s leaders are concentrating their efforts on collective steps to overcome the forthcoming challenges and making the EU more resilient to possible risks. Increasing educational potentials as drivers for jobs and growth is in the common interests of all EU states.


The primary responsibility for education and culture policies lies with the EU states; the Union’s institution are having only supporting and coordinating competence to enhance education at national, regional and local levels. However, the EU institutions are playing important roles, particularly in cross-border activities. For instance, after 30 years in operation, the Erasmus programme (Erasmus+ since 2014) has enabled 9 million people to study, train, teach, or volunteer in another country.


Over the past decade, the EU has also developed a series of “soft policy” tools to help EU states in the design of national education policies: since 2000, the EU states have been cooperating under the “Framework for European cooperation in education and training”, which set common objectives and benchmarks.


In 2010, the EU set two additional education targets within the EU-2020 Strategy: a) early school leaving has been reduced from 13.9% in 2010 to 10.7% in 2016, with the target to reach 10% by 2020. And b) tertiary educational attainment is up to 39.1% in 2016 from 34% in 2010, with the target of 40% by 2020.


To steer the Union’s educational reform and to stimulate discussion about European future, President Juncker proposed in his State of the Union Address in September 2017 a Roadmap for a More United, Stronger and More Democratic Union. Meeting in Gothenburg (17.xi.2017) is an opportunity for the EU leaders to discuss the strengthening of European identity through education and culture. Thus, the Commission’s ideas on the EU’s education area (EEA) are intended as a contribution to the EU leaders’ summit in Gothenburg. The Commission believes that it is in the common interest of all the EU states to harness the full potential of education and culture as drivers for job creation, economic growth and social fairness as well as a means to experience European identity in all its diversities.

EU’s opinion on education’s reform

Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen said on the occasion of the EEA that one of European greatest achievements has been the creation of an area of free movement for workers and citizens. But, he argued, there were still obstacles to mobility in the area of education; thus, by 2025 the EU shall create an area in which learning, studying and doing research would not be hampered by borders: studying in another EU state shall be the norm.

Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, added that for EU’s future a shared agenda for culture and learning should serve as a driver for unity. In this sense, education becomes a key, as education equips people with skills necessary to be active members of increasingly complex societies. It is education, he argued, that helps people adapt to a rapidly changing world, to develop a European identity, to understand other cultures and to gain the new skills needed in mobile, multicultural and increasingly digital society.


In March 2017, the EU leaders committed to creating a “Union where young people receive the best education and training and can study and find jobs across the continent”. The Commission believes that education and culture can be an important part of the solution in tackling the challenges of an ageing workforce, continued digitalisation, future needs for skills, the need to promote critical thinking and media literacy in an era where “alternative facts” and disinformation can proliferate online, as well as the need to foster a greater sense of belonging in face of populism and xenophobia.

European Area of Education components

The EEA shall include:


·         Making mobility a reality for all: by building on the positive experiences of the Erasmus+ programme and the European Solidarity Corps and expanding participation in them as well as by creating an EU Student Card to offer a new user-friendly way to store information on a person's academic records;

·         The mutual recognition of diplomasby initiating a new 'Sorbonne process', building on the "Bologna process", to prepare the ground for the mutual recognition of higher education and school leaving diplomas;

·         Greater cooperation on curricula development: by making recommendations to ensure education systems impart all the knowledge, skills and competences that are deemed essential in modern world;

·         Improving language learning: by setting a new benchmark for all young Europeans finishing upper secondary education to have a good knowledge of two languages in addition to their mother tongue(s) by 2025;

·         Promoting lifelong learning: by seeking convergence and increasing the share of people engaging in learning throughout their lives with the aim of reaching 25% by 2025;

·         Mainstreaming innovation and digital skills in education: by promoting innovative and digital training and preparing a new Digital Education Action Plan;

·         Supporting teachers: by multiplying the number of teachers participating in the Erasmus+ programme and eTwinning network and offering policy guidance on the professional development of teachers and school leaders;

·         Creating a network of European universities so that world-class European universities can work seamlessly together across borders, as well supporting the establishment of a School of European and Transnational Governance;

·         Investing in education: by using the European Semester to support structural reforms to improve education policy, using EU funding and EU investment instruments to fund education and setting a benchmark for EU states to invest 5% of GDP in education.

·         Preserving cultural heritage and fostering a sense of a European identity and culture: by developing – using the momentum of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage – a European Agenda for Culture and preparing a Council Recommendation on common values, inclusive education and the European dimension of teaching.

·         Strengthening the European dimension of Euronews, the broadcast created in 1993 with an ambition of having a European channel offering access to independent, high quality information with a pan-European perspective.  


More information on the following web-sites:

= Communication: A European Education area by 2025: fostering a European Identity through Education and Culture; = A series of Factsheets on strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture; = Strategic note by the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC) on the 10 trends transforming education as we know it; = Commission's Education and Training Monitor 2017: key figures on where the education and training stand in the EU.

Source: Commission press release “Future of Europe: towards European education area by 2025”, Strasbourg, 14 November 2017. In: