European Neighbourhood East
The ETF’s operations for the Neighbourhood are divided into two regions that parallel the specific regional partnership initiatives of the southern Neighbourhood (UfM) and the eastern Neighbourhood (EaP). The ETF’s operations in the European Neighbourhood also mirror the regional and country focus of the Neighbourhood policy through mutually reinforcing national and regional actions.
European Neighbourhood East
The region consists of five small countries (between 5 and 9 million inhabitants) and two large countries (Ukraine and Russia with 46 and 142 million inhabitants respectively). The proportion of the population made up of people of working age is higher than the EU average of 67% in all countries, however, the region has negative demographic growth, meaning that it is becoming one of the oldest regions of the world. While there has been substantial economic growth in the region, the drivers of growth vary. Overall, VET systems are facing difficulties to adapt to economic development and employment opportunities. The limited availability of jobs and poor wages have been key factors for labour migration, which has now become a feature of the region.
Russia absorbs the largest number of migrants, followed by Europe. Ukraine has the highest number of emigrants abroad.
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is included in the Neighbourhood Policy by providing a regional focus specific to the countries that neighbour the EU to the east. The Partnership strengthens co-operation with the EU, and promotes closer ties among the countries themselves. EaP Platform II focuses on economic integration and convergence with EU sector policies and covers two topics which are directly relevant for the ETF: employment and skills development for small businesses.
Platform IV promotes ‘contacts between people’ and directly concerns education and training.
In addition, under the coordination of DG Home Affairs, the European Commission has initiated mobility partnerships between the EU and the Republic of Moldova and Georgia for the joint management of migration flows and to create a proper framework for the legal movement of people and combat illegal migration.
The ETF will seek continuity in its actions in Eastern Europe in 2012 focusing on the priorities that were identified in the Torino Process in 2010 and supported in 2011.
These are principally:
- improving the relevance of VET provision to meet the demands of the labour market including
- cooperation with enterprises
- reinforcing governance and financing for VET systems
- developing approaches to quality and quality assurance
- supporting countries to enhance lifelong learning provision especially in continuing vocational training.
The ETF will continue to assist the European Commission in implementing the Eastern Partnership Platform work programmes II and IV and in developing the Mobility Partnerships. The ETF supports the SME Policy Assessment and the employment chapter of the work programme of Platform II. The ETF will promote the sharing of knowledge and experience on strategies for validating skills of returning migrants from the Republic of Moldova, Armenia, Georgia and other countries with which the EU signs mobility partnerships.
Through policy advice and capacity building support, the ETF contributes to evidence-based policy making and implementation. The Torino Process in 2012 aims to increase the evidence-base and the quality of the analysis of VET in order to contribute to quality enhancement of policy development and implementation.