Europe 2020 – top billing for education and youth.
I’m pleased to say that education and youth figure prominently in ‘Europe 2020’, the European Commission’s policy blueprint for recovery from the crisis and for social and economic growth over the next decade.
The strategy was launched by President Barroso on 3 March and you can read it in full here
It sets out the Commission’s ideas for reviving the European economy and creating smart, sustainable, inclusive growth. Education and training policies are key if Europe is to meet its ambitions. Modernising universities and opening up university education to more people are important for smart growth; building quality and access in basic education and lifelong learning will help deliver inclusive growth.
The 2020 strategy proposes five headline targets:
- On education, the Commission recommends efforts to cut the school dropout rate to below 10% from the current 15% and to increase the number of young people with a university degree or diploma from less than a third to at least 40%.
- The other targets are increasing the employment rate to at least 75%, boosting spending on research and development to 3% of GDP (it is currently only 2%, significantly less than in the US and Japan), lifting 20 million people out of poverty and achieving the EU's 20/20/20 climate change and energy goals (20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, 20% of EU energy to come from renewable resources, 20% reduction in energy use).
The strategy proposes seven flagship initiatives to boost growth and employment. They include 'Youth on the Move', which aims to improve the performance and international attractiveness of our higher education institutions and raise the quality of all levels of education and training in the EU, combining both excellence and equity.
I will launch 'Youth on the Move' in June. At EU level, we will:
- Enhance the Commission's student mobility, university and researchers' programmes (such as Erasmus, Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, Leonardo da Vinci and Marie Curie) and link them better with national programmes and resources;
- Step up the modernisation of higher education (curricula, governance and financing);
- Explore ways of promoting entrepreneurship through mobility programmes for young professionals;
- Promote the recognition of non-formal and informal learning;
- Launch new youth employment policies to encourage apprenticeships, traineeships or other work experience, including the EURES scheme which promotes mobility across the EU. I will work closely with Commissioner László Andor on this aspect of the initiative.
The strategy is deliberately focused and I believe this is the right approach, instead of producing a lengthy and unrealistic 'wish list' of initiatives. Its success depends on an effective, coordinated approach and on every Member State playing its part to the full. We will also need the full support of regional and local authorities, social partners and civil society. I am confident that, together, we will deliver concrete results.
Government leaders will debate Europe 2020 at the meeting later this month. The details, including national targets, will be agreed at a summit later this year, possibly in June.