EU Ministers of Education and Culture today, Monday November 26, made political advances on ongoing dossiers in their fields, adopting Council Conclusions on literacy, cultural governance, education and training in Europe 2020, as well as reaching a partial general approach on the proposal for a regulation establishing the new ‘Creative Europe’ Programme. During the first day of the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport (EYCS) Council in Brussels, the ministers also discussed the contribution of education and training to the economic recovery and outlined their commitment to improve the quality of education as a basic priority.
The Education, Youth, Culture and Sport (EYCS) Council focused on issues relating to education, as well as culture and audiovisual, as ministers met in Brussels today, November 26. The meeting was chaired by Cyprus’ Minister for Education and Culture, Mr. George Demosthenous.
Literacy for All
The Council today adopted Conclusions on literacy, an important issue in the field of education which affects all EU Member States. With one in five European citizens not currently possessing the skills required for succeeding in modern job market and life, the issue has formed one of the priorities of the Cyprus Presidency in the field of education and training.
Following the Presidency Conference entitled ‘Literacy for All’ held in Cyprus in September, Conclusions were adopted which call on Member States to improve literacy, combining specific contributions from all relevant actors, organisations and authorities, as part of broader skills strategies. The issue was also discussed at the Informal Meeting of Education Ministers, held in Lefkosia (Nicosia) on October 4 and 5.
The Council also succeeded in reaching political agreement on a proposal for a recommendation on the validation of non-formal and informal learning. This recommendation asks Member States to set up validation mechanisms for this type of learning by 2018 at the latest.
The contribution of education and training to economic recovery
The Council also adopted Conclusions on education and training in Europe 2020, outlining the contribution of education and training to economic recovery, growth and jobs. During the discussion on the issue, EU Education Ministers pointed out that investing in education at a time of crisis through smart and innovative actions will have a positive long term effect and therefore the EU must commit to a better Europe and a better future for citizens.
Mr. Demosthenous reminded ministers that the Nobel Laureate and Professor of Economics, Mr Christoforos Pissarides, during the October Informal Meeting of Education Ministers, had stressed that education can help reduce the consequences of the economic crisis, alleviating the long-term impact of the crisis on growth and help to achieve a more robust growth after that.
“We are convinced that these are areas which constitute a very important factor in ensuring economic coherence and social cohesion, particularly at this very difficult period. A shared belief of all ministers is that improving the quality of education should be our most basic aspiration” stated Mr. Demosthenous.
Enhancing the quality, competence and status of teachers
Moving into discussion of specific matters for improving education, ministers had a public debate - on the basis of a background paper prepared by the Presidency - on how to enhance the quality, competence and status of teachers at a time of scarce financial resources.
Discussions were enriched by the input of the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Sport, Media and Youth, Mrs. Androulla Vassiliou, who recently launched a big educational initiative linked to the issue.
The outcome of the discussion will be the starting point for further deliberations under the upcoming Irish Presidency.
In the field of Audiovisual ministers adopted a partial general approach on the proposal for a regulation establishing the new ‘Creative Europe’ Programme for the period 2014-2020. The programme has a two-fold objective: promoting cultural diversity and enhancing the competitiveness of the cultural, audiovisual and creative sectors.
This is related to the Culture and Creative Sectors Loan Guarantee Facility and the adoption of the partial general approach constitutes an important milestone towards finalising the whole package. The mechanism aims to facilitate access to finance the cultural and creative sectors and is an innovative initiative that is anticipated with great interest among the creative and cultural enterprises and organizations.
European Capitals of Culture and cultural governance
Ministers also took note of a progress report from the Presidency on the proposal for a decision establishing a Union action for the European Capitals of Culture for the years 2020 to 2033, which makes changes to the existing proposal aiming at improving selection, while retaining the structure of the current system.
The Council adopted conclusions on cultural governance, aiming to place culture at the heart of the public policy agenda, and on a European strategy for a better Internet for children.
The Council continues tomorrow and will focus exclusively on the fields of youth and sport.
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