My policy priorities
As Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, my priorities will concentrate on areas where we can make a difference in peoples' lives and contribute to a better Europe.
Education and training are at the heart of the Commission's 'Europe 2020' strategy for a competitive, green and sustainable economy. My priorities follow the Commission's broad policy guidelinesfor the next 5 years:
- improving skills and access to education and training, focusing on market needs
- increasing learning mobility and opportunities foryoung people
- nurturing cultural expression and creativity for all.
Improvements in education, research and innovation are needed to:
- help Europe compete globally
- equip the young for today's job market
- address the consequence of the economic crisis.
Improvement must start with the youngest pupils, especially through better teacher training - teachers are still the number-one factor in a child's success in life. Higher standards will also enhance the intrinsic value of children's education.
We will actively help the:
- 1 in 7 young people who leave school early
- 1 in 5 fifteen-year-olds with poor reading skills
- 80 million people surviving with only low or basic skills.
I will encourage policies to reduce early school leaving and make proposals to strengthen benchmarking to improvepolicies on employability, learning mobility and language learning.
Higher education is also vital for raising skill levels. Despite real progress through the Bologna higher education reforms, not many of our universities match the world's best. We must do more to ensure they do.
I intend to work towards energising and modernising higher education, making Europe a destination of choice for students and researchers through the:
- European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)
- Marie Curie actions (supporting mobility for researchers)
- Erasmus programme (learning mobility for students and academics)
We will help the EIT become a flagship for Europe's knowledge-based future. The Marie Curie scheme will reinforce efforts to bring together the European Areas of Higher Education and Research so that knowledge and the researchers and students who generate it moves freely across borders, stimulating innovation across Europe.
The Erasmus programme has been a success, but I want to do more to promote it by improving funding and quality. We're still some way from our target of 3 million Erasmus students by 2012 and participation is declining in one-third of the countries involved.
Erasmus Mundus, which supports exchanges between EU and international academic institutions, has become a flagship for integration and bridge-building across the world. I will promote it far and wide to enhance the global visibility of EU higher education.
To implement all of this, I will work closely with national authorities, mapping out common approaches to shared challenges, based on best practice and benchmarking. I will also push for more EU resources for this work.
As EU programmes show, learning mobility is very effective in enhancing skills (including languages) and employability and opening people's minds to other cultures. My aim is to establish a framework for the 'Youth on the Move'initiative in summer 2010 and propose a programme for it as soon as possible. This will boost cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and language learning.
I will work for an environment conducive to creativity, innovation and cultural expression. I will encourage our cultural and creative industries (which account for 2.6% of Europe's GDP) to spur more innovation and growth. A Green Paper in 2010 will help us target European and national action in this area.
I will soon present a proposal for a European heritage label, giving visibility to sites that epitomise European ideals, to foster a sense of shared European identity and belonging.
I intend to build on the success of the MEDIA programme, which helps showcase European culture globally by financially supporting the production and distribution of European films and related training. Our aim is to promote a world-beating industry, which creates jobs and growth. I will also pay particular attention to the impact of digital technologies on cinema.
On copyright, I will work closely with my fellow commissioners on the new digital agenda to achieve a balance between wider access to culture and fair remuneration for artists (vital for cultural diversity).
More broadly, I want to incorporate cultural priorities in other EU policies.
Language learning and use help us both professionally and socially, opening people's minds to the cultural diversity which is an integral part of the EU's wealth. We must support not just the EU's 23 official languages but Europe's 60 regional and minority languages.
One of my key tasks will be to promote language learning from a young age. Our goal is for every EU citizen to speak at least 2 foreign languages as well as their own. Knowledge of languages improves job prospects, communication and understanding, both inside Europe and beyond.
The EU’s youth policies aim to meet young people’s changing expectations while encouraging them to contribute to society. This policy work is supported by concrete action in the form of a specific programme for young people called Youth in Action, which aims to inspire a sense of active European citizenship and tolerance among young Europeans and to involve them in shaping the Union’s future by boosting their participation in democratic life.
I will continue to promote and support non-formal learning and intercultural dialogue among European youth, as well as the inclusion of all young people, particularly those from less-privileged backgrounds.
I intend to focus on encouraging young people to live and work in countries other than their own, thus giving them the opportunity to expand their horizons and to improve their chances of finding jobs.
Sport may not be in my job title but I consider it an important part of my portfolio. I want to explore how to take full advantage of the new EU powers in sport under the Lisbon Treaty. Sport's importance for education, training, social integration and health is immense. It also has an important economic impact.
I will work closely with professional and amateur organisations to ensure we:
- promote fair play
- fight doping
- protect young athletes - amateur and professional
- combat racism and violence
- promote grassroots sport and lifelong amateur sport for all, so Europeans have a healthy lifestyle from pre-school to old age.
Like many Europeans, I have passionate views on education, culture, languages, youth and sport.
That's why I'll be listening carefully to all stakeholders at an early stage of policy formulation. By working together, we will achieve more representative, credible and concrete results.