New Commission: Suspense ends but questions remain about the future of learning in Europe - EUCIS-LLL Press Release

While negotiations are ending about the composition of the new European Commission, EUCIS-LLL welcomes the willingness to build more synergies within the institution with thematic clusters, to bring the EU closer to its citizens and to gather education, culture, youth and citizenship under a same portfolio. However the Platform warns that Mr. Juncker’s will to “put Europe back on the path to jobs and growth” should come along with a strong emphasis on social inclusion, which starts with tangible investment in education and training and a clear vision for the future of learning in Europe. 

In the aftermath of the European elections, a new Commission has been finally presented yesterday. EUCIS-LLL welcomes that M. Juncker’s first priority will be “to strengthen Europe’s competitiveness and to stimulate investment for the purpose of job creation”. To make this happen, EUCIS-LLL reminds European policy engagements1 to invest in education and training. “Cuts in adult education, schools, universities and non-formal education will have far-reaching consequences that will hurt Europe in the long-run” said Audrey Frith, EUCIS-LLL Director. EUCIS-LLL wishes to see concrete fiscal measures to encourage Member states to invest in lifelong learning as well as clear political steps to ensure our citizens get equal access to quality education and training across the EU regardless of their social, cultural and geographic background.

We do insist on the fact that such investments should not be exclusively labour-market oriented but reflect the plural realities of lifelong learning. If education and training do contribute to growth, it shall remain a policy in itself because its impact is much wider2. It is about social participation, well-being, civic engagement and employability3. In this sense EUCIS-LLL welcomes the proposal to create more synergies between the different Commission Portfolios with thematic “clusters” to move forward some complex and important dossiers and to reach Europe 2020 targets. EUCIS-LLL is willing to work on scenarios of collaboration for a systemic approach on the use of Horizon 2020, Cosme and Erasmus+ for the future of learning in Europe with a specail focus and care about digital inclusion. However the decision to move “Adult Education and Vocational education and training” from DG Education and Culture to DG Employment may hinder the coherence of EU action in promoting lifelong learning as a comprehensive policy. Of course bridges have to be built between the two Directorates. It is important that the EU continues to be forward looking with a clear vision on the future of learning in Europe, while only coordinated lifelong learning strategies can bring those results.

Last but not least EUCIS-LLL welcomes the fact that citizenship is part of the same portfolio as education, culture and youth. Indeed the current economic downturn poses a serious challenge to fundamental rights and democratic participation through rising unemployment, shrinking public spending, growing xenophobia or racism. “This situation requires more work than ever on democratic values,” said Joke Van Der Leeuw Roord, EUCIS-LLL Secretary General. The fact that the Citizenship portfolio has been given to a member of Fidesz raises some questions about the willingness of the European Commission to tackle this important issue. As stated in M. Navracsics' mission letter making sure “Europeans can fully participate in society and empowering them to engage” is a sine qua none condition to build mutual trust and support with civil society.

Political choices are to be made notably in the framework of the Europe 2020 Review. Our societies are experiencing growing inequalities and social distress that cannot remain unanswered: the number of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion in the EU increased from 114 million in 2009 to 124 million in 2012. Those neither in employment nor in education and training (NEETs) have significantly increased in OECD countries since the start of the crisis while vulnerable learners such as migrants are particularly disadvantaged4. EUCIS-LLL has been calling for a new flagship initiative on building inclusive educative systems within the Europe 2020 Review. “It is now important to deliver policies that will contribute to social welfare, active citizenship and inclusive growth in order to create an appetite for Europe” said David Lopez, EUCIS-LLL President.

Brussels, 11th September 2014

[1] Annual Growth Survey 2014
[2] It is directly correlated with access to basic welfare services, participation in democratic and associative life, development of a sense of social cohesion or even better life expectancy. OECD’s “Society at a glance. OECD social indicators: the crisis and its aftermath”, 2014
[3] OECD's PIAAC Survey 2013
[4] OECD’s “Society at a glance. OECD social indicators: the crisis and its aftermath”,2014

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.