Highlight the "European added value" of these policies in the future discussions regarding the future of Europe, the MFF negotiations and the work of the task force on subsidiarity;
Support in consequence the proposed vision for building up a European Education Area by 2025;
Highlight the broad mission of education and culture, their role in strengthen European identity and ensuring social inclusion and the need for support at all levels – EU, national, local and regional;
Highlight the key role of LRAs in education and culture policies and their value added as a player and an interface between the world of learning and the world of work;
Insist on the need to bridge the gaps between regions and to valorise the activities of regional and peripheral education and training institutions;
Underline the need for smart, efficient and innovative funding and spending in education and training to better respond to future skill-intensive jobs/expansion and replacement demand, to support growth and youth employment;
Ensure that LRAs continue to play a vital role in implementing and (re)designing the proposed reforms and measures.
At its meeting on 22-23 May 2018, the Council of the EU adopted conclusions on Education and Culture, including conclusions on moving towards a vision of a European Education Area (EEA). The conclusions highlight the crucial role of education and culture in bringing Europeans together and for the future of the EU (the important role of culture is also underlined in para. 5 of the CoR Opinion).
The Council conclusions invite member states to cooperate and to continue reflecting on a shared vision of an EEA, including its possible goals, objectives and scope, and its links with the post-2020 strategic framework for cooperation in education and training. Special emphasis is placed on: Erasmus +, digital skills and education, higher education, high quality and inclusive education, involvement of new stakeholders including disadvantaged groups, language learning and the recognition of qualifications. In para. 40 of the Opinion, the CoR "strongly supports boosting the Erasmus + programme with the aim of doubling the number of participants, reaching out to learners from disadvantaged backgrounds by 2025 and expanding towards lifelong learning and educator mobility in order to guarantee mobility for all students under equal conditions, regardless of where they live, including those from remote, insular and outermost regions". The Commission proposal for the Erasmus programme 2021-2027 proposes to double the budget to EUR 30 billion, which would allow tripling the number of participants as compared to the current programme. The proposed new programme is more inclusive and accessible, notably to people with fewer opportunities. It is strongly anchored in a lifelong learning approach. The needs of the outermost regions are already taken into account in the current Erasmus+ programme, as it provides the maximum financial allowance to participants going to or coming from those regions. The successor programme will continue taking into account the specific situation of those regions.
The Council also held a policy debate with a particular focus on the type of measures and incentives that can be put in place by governments and regional authorities to foster the potential of higher education institutions, and the role of smart specialisation strategies and synergies among relevant instruments. Ministers agreed that cooperation between universities, business and local authorities is key to ensuring better development and cohesion. Mobility schemes, including for teachers and professors, should be supported at regional and national level. In para. 36 of the Opinion, the CoR "supports the measures to ensure equal opportunities for every student and apprentice and reduce inequality" and in para. 37, it "advises explicitly pointing out that "going beyond equal opportunities" should be understood as "providing equitable opportunities" as a means to ensure inclusion, which requires resolute action". In the same para., the CoR underlines that "Local and regional authorities, being closest to the European citizens should be empowered to research, design and implement such measures according to the specific needs of the local communities".
The Council Recommendation on promoting common values, inclusive education, and the European dimension of teaching has been adopted by the Council on 22 May 2018 (2018/C 195/01). Without prejudice to the principle of subsidiarity (explicitly mentioned in there), the recommendation recognises the pivotal role of the local and regional level in the field of education and culture.
A number of proposals from the CoR Opinion were reflected in the final Council recommendation or other Commission proposals:
As requested in Amendment 6 on "introducing new and expanding the scope of existing opportunities for cultural mobility", a new scheme for the mobility of artists and/or culture professionals is being set up through the Creative Europe and the New European Agenda for Culture. The Commission proposal for the new Creative Europe programme (2021 to 2027) contains a new activity which specifically targets mobility of artists.
In para. 12, it is proposed to "focusing attention and resources on awareness and dissemination of European culture, history and identity" and extending the "Europe for citizens" programme. Under the new MFF, the Commission is proposing to extend the new Europe for Citizens programme and to combine it with the Rights, Equalities and Citizenship programme into a new Rights and Values programme worth EUR 642 million for the 2021-27 period. The new programme aims at protecting and promoting rights and values as enshrined in the Treaties, in order to sustain open, democratic and inclusive societies. Specific objectives proposed include increasing citizens’ understanding of the Union, its history, heritage and diversity.
As underlined in para.13 of the CoR Opinion, it is considered that "Introducing a European dimension of teaching should aim to help learners experience European identity in all its diversity and strengthen a European positive and inclusive sense of belonging complementing their local, regional and national identities and traditions" (Recital (18) in the Preamble of the Council Recommendation).
The CoR Opinion also includes proposals on culture and cultural heritage, focusing on the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage, the European Heritage Label, stronger engagement with Member States, regions and cities, cultural mobility and culture for social inclusion and intercultural dialogue (para.14.-21). The European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, the European Heritage Label, the Commission’s New European Agenda for Culture and the new Creative Europe programme (2021-2027) all aim at tackling the promotion of cultural awareness and cultural mobility, the strengthening of a European and shared identity, the support of inclusion and intercultural dialogue, higher visibility of the European Union, cooperation at regional and local levels in the field of culture, the training of specialists, the development of traditional arts and crafts, sustainable cultural tourism as well as cultural and creative industries. Cultural mobility of artists is notably addressed through Creative Europe and the New European Agenda for Culture: a new scheme for the mobility of artists and/or culture professionals is being set up, and the Commission proposal for the new Creative Europe programme (2021 to 2027) contains a new activity which specifically targets mobility of artists.
Apart from the impact illustrated above, the opinion has a valuable role as part of the input from the CoR to the Leaders Agenda debate on education and culture, together with the CoR Opinion on "Cultural Heritage as a strategic resource for more cohesive and sustainable regions in the EU" (rapporteur Babette Winter (DE/PES).
Given the enlarged scope and the importance of the context, the follow up continued during the entire year of 2018. The rapporteur was invited to several high level Conferences organised by the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU (International Roundtable on Cultural Tourism, Veliko Tarnovo/19 April 2018; " Towards a European Education Area – Promoting Common Values and Inclusive Education ", Brussels /21 June 2018), the European Parliament (Interparliamentary Committee Meeting on European Cultural Heritage, Brussels/19 November 2018) or the 11th Cultural Tourism Conference, Pafos/25-27 October 2018.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- supports the general vision of a European Education Area and agrees that education and culture are major factors in making Europe more resilient in the context of accelerating globalisation and current geopolitical trends;
- suggests that the level of government in charge of setting the education curriculum for schools place additional focus on the cultural and ethnographic aspects of history, with a critical and philosophical analysis of universal values within diversity, and include a section in the curriculum on the European Union;
- calls for the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage to be included in strategic initiatives supporting regional cultural development;
- calls for topics relevant to the digitalisation of society to be given greater prominence, in order to familiarise learners with coding concepts and introduce competences , not only pragmatic but also ethical, critical and analytical in the field of cyber security, social networking and media literacy;
- strongly supports boosting the Erasmus + programme with the aim of doubling the number of participants, reaching out to learners from disadvantaged backgrounds by 2025 and expanding towards lifelong learning and educator mobility;
- strongly supports priority measures to build inclusive and connected higher education systems and calls for particular attention to be given to peripheral universities and those in the outermost regions and to cross-border cooperation. The underlying assumption should be the belief that no university is peripheral and all universities are or should also be regional