Education Law

Education Law in Europe

European Union Education Law and Policy

One of the Education, Youth and Culture Council (EYC Council, which comprises ministers responsible for these areas in all the EU Member States and organises three formal meetings a year, with other informal meetings held as required) most important tasks is to promote the European dimension in education. Since education in Europe remains above all a national competence, the council is principally concerned with areas where a European approach can be of added value.

Within this context, the work programme for 2010 for education and training systems is a significant initiative which seeks to increase the contribution of European education systems to the Lisbon Strategy’s main objective of turning Europe into the most competitive and most dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world.

By adopting this work programme, the Barcelona European Council (2002) decided that the “open coordination method” would apply definitively to education in Europe. The three basic principles for teaching and training systems in the EU are:

1) improved quality and efficiency;
2) easy universal access;
3) opening up to the world.

In 2003, the European ministers for education quantified these objectives by specifying five reference points for comparison, which primarily involve increasing the number of graduates in the exact sciences and technology, reducing premature school drop-out rates and promoting lifelong learning.

The Union has also launched a series of incentive programmes with the aim of increasing the European added value of European cooperation in education. These programmes focus on student mobility, cooperation between teaching institutions, information exchange, the updating of exchange programmes for pupils, students and teaching staff, and the development of distance learning.

The higher education programme is called Socrates, and the vocational training programme is called Leonardo da Vinci. For the period 2000-2006, the budget allocated to these two teaching initiatives will exceed EUR 3.5 billion. In addition, reference should be made to the Tempus programme, which involves cooperation with third countries (outside the European Economic Area) and focuses on the development of higher education systems, particularly in the new Member States.

The Erasmus Mundus programme, which was adopted in 2003, seeks to reinforce international links in higher education by offering students from all over the world the possibility of participating in the masters programmes of selected European universities, and by encouraging the mobility of European students.

A new action programme was started and formulated for the period after 2007, which integrated all the abovementioned initiatives, including a Tempus programme aimed at third countries, in a single global lifelong learning programme. Later, other programs followed.

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