Select Committee on European Scrutiny Ninth Report


COM(01) 59


Commission Report: The concrete future objectives of education

Report from the Education Council to the European Council: The
concrete future objectives of education and training systems

Legal base:
Documents originated: (a) 31 January 2001
(b) —
Forwarded to the Council: (a) 1 February 2001
(b) —
Deposited in Parliament: (a) 23 February 2001
(b) 9 March 2001
Department: Education and Employment
Basis of consideration: EM of 12 March 2001
Previous Committee Report: None
To be discussed in Council: 23-24 March 2001
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: (Both) Cleared


  12.1  At the Lisbon European Council in March 2000, EU Education Ministers were asked to provide the European Council in spring 2001 with a "general reflection on the concrete future objectives of education systems, focusing on common concerns and priorities". This report has been produced in response to that request.

  12.2  Document (a) is an early draft, prepared by the Commission on the basis of Member State contributions. Document (b) is the revised text which was adopted by EU Education Ministers at the 12 February Education Council. We concentrate here on the latter document.

Document (b)

  12.3  The introduction to the document makes it clear that the Council interprets its mandate as covering both education and training systems. The report then describes the common challenges facing both education and training systems in Europe, before presenting the following three strategic objectives for the next ten years:

    "—  increasing the quality and effectiveness of education and training systems in the European Union;

    "—  facilitating the access of all to the education and training systems; and

    "—  opening up education and training systems to the wider world."

  12.4  The report then considers each objective in greater detail. Under the first objective, Increasing the quality and effectiveness of education and training systems in the European Union, sub-headings address the following:

    —  improving education and training for teachers and trainers;

    —  developing skills for the knowledge society;

    —  ensuring access to ICTs[42] for everyone;

    —  increasing recruitment to scientific and technical studies; and

    —  making the best use of resources.

  12.5  The second objective, Facilitating the access of all to the education and training systems, is discussed under the following sub-headings:

    —  open learning environment;

    —  making learning more attractive; and

    —  strengthening active citizenship, equal opportunities and social cohesion.

  12.6  The third objective, Opening up education and training systems to the wider world, is discussed under five sub-headings:

    —  strengthening the links with working life and research, and society at large;

    —  developing the spirit of enterprise;

    —  improving foreign language learning;

    —  increasing mobility and exchanges; and

    —  strengthening European co-operation.

  12.7  A final section, The future role of education and training in the Lisbon follow-up, commits the Education Council, in co-operation with the Commission, to defining the following during 2001:

    "—  how to measure the achievement of the concrete objectives;

    "—  what concrete work should be undertaken, at European level, in each of the areas concerned;

    "—  which areas are suitable for peer review, exchange of good practice, and how progress could be measured using benchmarks; and

    "—  which areas will need indicators, and if new indicators have to be defined or whether existing indicators can be used."

The Government's view

  12.8  The Minister for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone) tells us that the key challenges and objectives set out in the report are broadly consistent with the UK Government's existing policies and priorities. She points out that, while the report describes the key areas on which the work of the Education Council will focus over the next ten years, it does not prescribe how this work will be taken forward and does not, therefore, breach the principle of subsidiarity.

  12.9  The Minister tells us that the report is due to be submitted to the Stockholm European Council on 23-24 March 2001.


  12.10  Although, in the introduction to the report, the Council "notes the principle that an important role of education is to promote the humanistic values shared by our societies", the thrust of the document is in the direction of the Lisbon goal[43] and education and training are discussed largely as means to that end. Within those parameters, the report sets some challenging objectives which should provide a useful framework for future specific proposals.

  12.11  We clear both documents.

42  Information Communication Technologies. Back

43  That Europe should become "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustained economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion". Back

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