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Completing the European Education Area requires a stronger regional focus  
The European Commission published on 18 November the first progress report on the European Education Area, as well as the 2022 Education and Training monitor which tracks progress towards achieving the EU-level targets with data from Member States. With the objective to complete the European Education Area (EEA) by 2025, representatives of EU's regions and cities have welcomed the roadmap that the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) had been calling for. However, they regret that the report lacks references to the role of local and regional authorities as well as data on regional disparities.

The European Commission points out in the progress report that total EU expenditure on education and skills will triple in 2021–2027 compared to 2014–2020, thanks to Erasmus+ with its doubled budget, the Recovery and Resilience Facility and the EU cohesion policy funds.

While trends toward several EU-level targets show a positive upward convergence (early school leaving is declining, while tertiary educational attainment and participation in early childhood education and care are on the rise), the European Commission also sees "significant warning signs requiring systemic longer-term efforts to improve quality and equity in education and training". Furthermore, education and training systems across the EU have faced additional pressure over the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the welcoming of refugee learners and teachers from Ukraine.

Tanya Hristova (BG/EPP), Mayor of Gabrovo and Chair of the CoR's Commission for Social Policy, Employment, Education, Research and Culture (SEDEC), said: "As rapporteur for the 2018 CoR opinion on Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture, I was amongst the first to share and support the general vision of a European Education Area. For our SEDEC commission, education, together with youth and culture, will continue to be a priority policy area due to our conviction that these policies are major factors in making Europe more resilient, especially during the multiple crises we experience today. We remain committed to contribute to the realisation of the EEA by 2025, for which the mutual recognition of qualifications and diplomas between Member States remains crucial."

Emil Boc (RO/EPP), Mayor of Cluj-Napoca and rapporteur for the CoR opinion on Achieving the European Education Area by 2025, said: "Exactly one year and a half ago, when we discussed the ambitious plan to realise a European Education Area by 2025, w e firmly asked for a roadmap, annual indicators and benchmarks to assess the progress towards this goal at European, national and, where relevant, at regional and local level. The Progress Report published by the European Commission today is an important step in the right direction, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us. In the coming years, the strategic objectives of the European Education Area need to be matched with clear, identifiable financial resources available also to local and regional authorities . The quality of our European way of life depends on our long-term investment in education. "

The SEDEC Commission is working together with the European Commission's Directorate-General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) in the framework of a Joint Action Plan​. It includes actions to map educational inequalities rising from the Covid-19 pandemic, to develop together the European Universities initiative, to support connectivity and digital education and to improve links with the European Research Area (ERA).


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