Continue to directly contribute to the establishment of the European Education Area and call for clear milestones and commensurate means for its completion by 2025;
Highlight the key role of LRAs in the process and their potential, beyond sharing of good practices on investment in education, as real partners in reforming education and training policies and an interface between the world of learning and the world of work;
Support a global approach to research, innovation, education and youth policy areas and plead for the establishment of powerful links and synergies between the European Education Area (EEA) and the European Research Area (ERA);
Insist on the need to ensure quality and inclusive education for all and bridge the gaps between regions in the framework of green and digital transitions and to also valorise the activities of regional and peripheral education and training institutions;
Call for the CoR to be included in the future enhanced structured work and the Steering Board for the European Education Area and to be part of the permanent European Education Area Platform;
Ensure that LRAs continue to play a vital role in implementing and (re)designing the proposed reforms and measures.
In response to the CoR Opinion on Achieving the European Education Area by 2025, the European Commission recognised the important role of local and regional authorities (LRAs) play in realising the European Education Area (EEA), with several proposals being already taken into consideration for the implementation phase:
o LRAs to have access to EU financial resources to implement the EEA objectives, either as direct beneficiaries or through investments benefitting the local and regional level;
o develop an innovative approach for gathering evidence and developing indicators with a view to fostering evidence-based policymaking in achieving the EEA;
o strengthen cooperation between higher education institutions as well as VET and Higher VET institutions and their local and regional authorities;
o create synergies between the EEA and ERA areas, and also link them with relevant other policies and programmes, such as those linked to regional development and employment.
Moreover, the Joint Action Plan being implemented by the European Committee of the Regions and the European Commission is strengthening cooperation in delivering the EEA notably in the following areas:
o strengthening the links of European Universities with their regions and cities, in particular with the aim to foster knowledge ecosystems;
o highlighting initiatives at the regional and local level (through the European Education Area portal), and funding opportunities;
o strong involvement of the Committee in the ʻEducation for Climateʼ Coalition;
o close cooperation in the context of the Digital Education Action Plan 2021-2027.
The call by the CoR to further involve the LRAs in delivering on the EEA vision was also echoed by the European Parliament report on the EEA , urging the European Commission and the Member States "to commit to the type of participation required from Member States and other levels of government, including local and regional authorities, as well as the EU institutions, and to devise effective multi-level governance arrangements that respect the principle of subsidiarity, while aiming to generate European added value".
DG EAC and DG RTD appreciated the increased engagement of the CoR through a Targeted Consultation Meeting on higher education policy initiatives stemming from EEA in synergy with ERA held on 5 July 2021. Commissioner Gabriel discussed with CoR members the upcoming developments regarding the European Strategy for Universities, as well as the European approach to micro-credentials and Education for Environmental Sustainability.
Building on its direct contribution to the establishment of the European Education Area (EEA), the SEDEC commission intends to further participate in the next design and implementation stages, including by promoting a territorial dimension within the upcoming EU strategy for universities and the new ways for deeper and sustainable transnational cooperation in higher education.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- points out that education is an important factor in making communities more resilient, enabling them to cope more easily with economic or any other crises and to adapt to new requirements and circumstances;
- considers that local and regional authorities (LRAs) have an instrumental role to play in delivering on the vision of the European Education Area;
- points out that a roadmap, annual indicators and benchmarks need to be developed in order to assess progress towards European Education Area objectives at European, national and, where relevant, at regional and local level;
- considers that it is important to reduce current education disparities between remote, rural and urban areas, regional disparities, stages in the education system (primary, secondary and university) and educational establishments;
- considers that there are important lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 crisis as regards education in local and regional communities. The crisis has had a profound impact on education in local and regional communities, forcing them to meet huge challenges in terms of crisis management, economic and social resilience, the use of technology in education, adapting human resources to new circumstances, the need to cooperate and the need to provide inclusive education which meets high standards;
- highlights the increasing importance of building strategic partnerships between LRAs and their universities (central players in the "knowledge square": education, research, innovation and service to society). Universities play a key role in developing resilient local communities and regions.