In 2000, the EU was set the goal of becoming the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010. This included the achievement of greater social cohesion while also being capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs. The plan to achieve this goal is known as the Lisbon Strategy.
Education policy has a central part to play, and language learning is crucial in this respect.
EU education ministers have highlighted three major goals to be achieved by 2010 to support the Lisbon Strategy:
Fundamental goals and specific steps for achieving them are contained in “Education and Training 2010” - the education and training contribution to the Lisbon Strategy.
Education and Training 2010 covers a lot of ground. It sets out the shared ambitions for 2010, including the incorporation of diversity and co-operation into the overall goals. It specifies how these goals will be achieved - through the open method of co-ordination, whereby Member States agree to co-operate and be measured against common benchmarks.
Finally, the plan sets out 13 specific objectives:
The language learning objective is framed as a contribution to the aim of opening up education and training to the wider world. The EU’s guiding principle is that every person should be able to speak two foreign languages in addition to their mother tongue.
Education and Training 2010 sets out benchmarks for assessing the progress of Member States and also prioritises three areas that will benefit from the exchange of experience:
The Council Conclusions on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training ("ET 2020"), adopted in May 2009, build on progress made under the previous Education and Training work programme and set four strategic objectives: making lifelong learning and mobility a reality; improving the quality and efficiency of education and training; promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship; enhancing creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training. Activities also contribute to the Bologna intergovernmental process in the field of higher education.