In accordance with the subsidiarity principle, education and training policies as such are decided by each European Union (EU) Member State. The role of the EU is therefore a supporting one. However, some challenges are common to all Member States — ageing societies, skills deficits in the workforce, global competition and early childhood education — and thus need joint responses with countries working together and learning from each other.

While vocational training was identified as an area of Community action in the Treaty of Rome in 1957, education was formally recognized as an area of EU competency in the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. The treaty states that the Community ‘shall contribute to the development of quality education by encouraging cooperation between Member States and, if necessary, by supporting and supplementing their action, while fully respecting the responsibility of the Member States for the content of teaching and the organisation of education systems and their cultural and linguistic diversity.

In its policies and actions, the Union must take account of requirements linked to the promotion of a high level of education and training. Thus, the EU’s long-term strategic objectives on education and training as set by the Council in 2009 are:

(1) making lifelong learning and mobility a reality;

(2) improving the quality and efficiency of education and training;

(3) promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship; (

4) enhancing creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training.

In 2016, the Commission released a communication on a New Skills Agenda for Europe (COM(2016) 0381) in which it proposes 10 actions to equip people with the skills needed in the job market and to make better use of the skills they already have, in order to help them find quality jobs:

  • a Skills Guarantee to help low-skilled adults acquire a minimum level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills;
  • a review of the European Qualifications Framework;
  • the ‘Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition’ to support cooperation among education, employment and industry stakeholders;
  • the ‘Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills’ to improve skills intelligence;
  • a ‘Skills Profile Tool for Third-Country Nationals’ to support early identification and profiling of the skills and qualifications of migrants;
  • support for vocational education and training, particularly through events and activities within the European Vocational Skills Week;
  • a review of the recommendation on key competences to help more people acquire the core set of skills necessary to work and live in the 21st century;
  • a revision of the Europass Framework, offering people better and easier-to-use tools to present their skills;
  • a proposal for a Recommendation on Graduate Tracking with the aim of improving understanding of graduates’ performance after their education and training experiences;
  • analysis and sharing of best practice to manage the movement of highly skilled and qualified people between countries (‘brain flow’).

Education and employment

  • The Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) and the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) drew up a joint own-initiative report on the Commission communication on the ‘New Skills Agenda for Europe’. The resolution was adopted in Parliament on 14 September 2017. Parliament advocated a holistic approach to education and skills development, inviting Member States to not only focus on employability skills, but also skills that are useful to society. Other issues mentioned were a more comprehensive approach to the up-skilling of migrants, investing in early childhood education and care, boosting lifelong learning opportunities, the key role of non-formal and informal learning as well as fostering digital, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and entrepreneurial skills.

Written by: Catalin Popsor

Source :

January 9, 2019