Select Committee on European Communities Twenty-Seventh Report



  16.    The Commission begins its Communication by proclaiming that Community action in education, training and youth must respond to two of the major policies of the Community. The first is how to strengthen the "Knowledge policies" of innovation, research, education and training, so that they will boost the collective wealth of Europe, and enhance personal fulfilment, while ensuring that such developments are not a source of social exclusion. It declares that "Real wealth creation will henceforth be linked to the production and dissemination of knowledge and will depend first and foremost on our efforts in the field of research, education and training". The second policy to which the programmes must respond is the policy of developing skills as a way of creating employment. The Commission states that "Policies to restore the employment situation ... must be able to build on an in-depth medium-term strategy to enhance the knowledge and skills of all Europe's citizens".


  17.    The Commission notes that the new programmes must have a limited number of objectives. They suggest that the objectives should be (i) increasing access to the programmes; (ii) innovation (using pilot projects); and (iii) dissemination of good practice.


  18.    The Commission suggests that programme activity should be focused in five areas:

      (i)  the promotion of physical mobility (of students and staff);

      (ii)  the promotion of virtual mobility (using information technology to link institutions);

      (iii)  the development of cooperation networks (institutions working in particular groups to implement the programmes);

      (iv)  the promotion of language skills and the understanding of different cultures (including the extension of arrangements for recognition of study abroad); and

      (v)  the pursuit of innovation through trans-national pilot projects.

The Commission favours integrated projects which bring together different activities grouped around a single theme.


  19.    The Commission takes the view that building a Europe of Knowledge is not a job for the Commission alone. In order for a Europe of Knowledge to take shape, the Commission intends to produce proposals which will involve the following parties in initiating and piloting various activities:

      (i)  Member States;

      (ii)  educational partners (universities, schools, and parents etc);

      (iii)  social partners (this relates particularly to vocational training);

      (iv)  economic partners (businesses);

      (v)  regional and local partners (again, particularly in relation to vocational training); and

      (vi)  voluntary partners (associations and foundations in sympathy with the Community's educational aims, especially in relation to youth policy).


  20.    The Commission regards the programme as playing an important role in the run-up to enlargement. The Commission wants to develop the policy of co-operation and exchange with other areas of the world (see paragraph 110 below).


  21.    The Commission proposes to set up a common legal framework for coordinating and monitoring the objectives and activities of the three education, training and youth programmes.


  22.    The Commission has already signalled its intention to submit budgetary proposals corresponding to an ambitious policy. The Commission states that this may imply an increase in budgetary resources higher than the increase in GNP. More effort will be made to avoid duplication of effort and expense.


  23.    In order to simplify the administration, the Commission proposes to decentralise the management of day-to-day affairs "to the levels closest to the parties concerned", with an increased role for National Agencies. This devolution of management will leave the Commission free to concentrate on project stimulation, coordination, follow-up and dissemination of results.


  24.    The Commission also wishes to raise the visibility of the programmes; to have as a hallmark of the new programmes a greater spirit of cooperation; to improve evaluation procedures; and to simplify the administration of the programmes; to introduce more flexibility (for example, by introducing multi-annual funding procedures); and to improve co-financing arrangements between public and private sources.

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