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EU policy environment

EU policy environment

The European Union’s external relations policies and the EU’s internal approaches to the education and training and employment shape the ETF’ co-operation with partner countries.

External relations policies provide the economic and political context for the ETF’ work programme.  EU internal approaches to education and training provide increasingly relevant reference points for partner countries seeking to modernise their education and training systems.

The ETF draws on internal EU initiatives where there is a political willingness and the capacity to implement the approach in the partner countries, i.e., where they are relevant to the needs of the partner countries and there is a conducive policy environment.  Due to the fact that the EU will agree on the operations of the new external action service as provided for by the Lisbon Treaty in 2011, the ETF will need to assess the implications of the new service on its work, particularly in relation to EU Delegations.

EU policies for education, training and employment

EU 2020
The contribution of education and training to economic competitiveness is a main priority for the European Union in the coming decade.  The Lisbon Strategy developed by the EU for the period 2000-10 to provide a framework for European wide approach to economic growth has been updated through the new EU2020 strategy.  This strategy maintains the themes of ‘growth and jobs’ and places the period 2010-20 in the context of recovery from the economic crisis and the growing urgency for sustainable economic development. The EU 2020 strategy contains three main priotiries: smart growth, sustainable growth andinclusive growth.  The 2011 work programme targets all three.  The strategy includes an external dimension to ensure that EU instruments and policies are deployed to promote the EU globally.

The EU 2020 strategy identifies two key flagship areas for human capital development within the EU. These are: ‘Youth on the move’ and ‘An agenda for new skills and jobs’.

‘Youth on the Move’ aims to enhance the performance of education systems and to facilitate the entry of young people to the labour market in the EU. ‘An agenda for new skills and jobs’ aims to modernise labour markets and empower people by developing skills throughout their lives to increase labour participation and better match labour supply and demand, including labour mobility. In 2011, the ETF will draw on these flagship initiatives to inform its work with partner countries.

EC Communication on vocational education and training
The European Commission’s Communication ‘A new impetus for vocational education and training’ emphasises the contribution that vocational education and training makes to economic and social challenges, particularly in relation to efficiency and equity in the labour market.  The Communication outlines the priorities that give vocational education and training a new impetus. These include:

  • Ensuring access to training and qualifications is flexible and open at all stages of life;
  • Promoting mobility to make it easier to gain experience abroad, or in a different sector of the economy;
  • Ensuring the highest possible quality of education and training;
  • Providing more opportunities for disadvantaged groups such as school dropouts, low-skilled and unemployed people, people with migrant backgrounds and disabled people;
  • Nurturing creative, innovative and entrepreneurial thinking in students.

The Communication highlights the increasing awareness of common EU reference tools in partner countries, and their potential to contribute to trans-national collaboration, regional development, and improvements in the management of legal skilled labour migration.  The Communication emphasises that EU policy on vocational education and training should be subject to further policy dialogue and mutual learning with the international community, including third countries and relevant international organisations. In particular, it also suggests launching structured cooperation with Neighbourhood countries and further extending co-operation with Enlargement countries with ETF support.

Copenaghen process and Education and Training 2020
Transparency and co-operation in vocational education and training between Member States are promoted by the Copenhagen Process, which links to the Education and Training 2020 strategy. The strategy has the following objectives for education and training in the EU:

  • to make lifelong learning and mobility a reality;
  • to improve the quality and efficiency of education and training;
  • promote equity, social cohesion and active citizenship; and,
  • to enhance creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training.

The ETF will provide relevant support to the partner countries and the Commission as requested in relation to the Education and Training 2020 strategy and the review of the Copenhagen Process where these are relevant to its partner countries.

Other relevant EU policy developments

Small Business Act and EuroMed Charter for Enterprises
The European Union’s Small Business Act frames the EU’s approach to supporting small business development, including the contribution human capital development.  One of its key functions is to guide the development of indicators and assess the promotion of entrepreneurship in education.  The ETF supports these assessments in the Western Balkans and Turkey. In the southern Mediterranean countries and as part of broader EU assistance, the ETF bases its support on the Euro-Mediterranean Enterprise Charter, focusing on the contribution that human capital development makes to business development.

Stockholm programme
The Stockholm programme is a new multi-annual programme in the area of justice, freedom and security developed under the Swedish Presidency in 2009. It covers, inter alia, the development of a comprehensive migration policy, including the role of managed skilled legal migration, which is relevant to the ETF’s work on the analysis of skills in the context of migration flows with particular relevance to labour migration.  ETF findings indicate that a ‘win-win-win’ situation could be possible for all stakeholders involved in the migration process (sending countries, receiving countries and migrants themselves) if a ‘virtuous circle’ is created for the benefit of all – through a better management of labour migration and its skills dimension by, even more, focusing on circular migration.

Danube Strategy
A further area in which the ETF may support the Commission during 2011 is in the EU strategy for the Danube region. The approach aims at integrating labour market, social inclusion and education initiatives at local level and through cross border co-operation. The ETF will support the partner countries in their involvement in the strategy where relevant.

EU programmes
In cooperation with the European Commission, the ETF will maintain close links as required with the Lifelong Learning programme, Erasmus Mundus and the Trans-European Mobility Scheme for University Studies (Tempus) and any other schemes.

Education and Training in the Presidencies of Hungary and Poland during 2011
During 2011, the Hungarian Presidency (January-June) and the Polish Presidency (July-December) will give high visibility to Education and Training.  Both Presidencies include themes and topics relevant to the ETF’s work.  The respective priority areas are as follows:

  • Priority areas of the Hungarian Presidency in 2011
  • Contribution of Education and training to the Europe 2020 strategy;
  • Stocktaking of the EQF implementation-lessons learned and paving the way forward;
  • Lifelong learning and mobility;
  • Commission proposals on the ‘Youth on Move’ programme;
  • Active citizenship for inclusive society and competitive and sustainable economy;
  • Schools for the 21st century with a focus on leadership; and,
  • Taking forward the New skills for jobs initiatives.

Priority areas of the Polish presidencies in 2011

  • Open Method of Coordination - Education and Training 2020 Programme- priority areas of the cooperation for the next cycle of implementation;
  • The Polish Council of Ministers has defined the Eastern Partnership as one of the transversal themes of the Polish Presidency. The Presidency will feature a conference on the Eastern dimension of mobility of learners (school pupils, university students, and adult learners), youth, academic staff and researchers, as well as NGOs;
  • Development of teacher competences for facing challenges of modern schools;
  • Key competences for young people, based on PISA 2009 results (to be released in December 2010) and Eurydice reports on reading literacy and maths and science literacy and focusing on the links between the teaching of key competences and the school practice and assessment; and,
  • Modernising higher education and the Bologna Process.

The ETF will follow the agenda of the Presidencies closely and co-operate with them and the European Commission to ensure appropriate links. 

2011: European Year for Volunteering
Inter alia, to sustain actions on volunteering, ETF work will focus on developments supporting the validation of skills acquired through volunteer work and on their recognition for career development.

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