Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe online event series

Publication date: 21/04/2021

On 3 March 2021, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, launched an event series on early childhood education and care (ECEC) in Europe. 

Parent with child playing

As announced at the launch event, the event series will take place in spring and autumn 2021 and will address topics, such as enhancing the inclusivity and professionalisation of the sector.

Event schedule

How to watch the events

Recordings will be published after each event. Stay tuned!

You can also follow the event on the Erasmus+ Facebook page and Erasmus+ on Twitter

What has been achieved so far?

In 2020, the goal of 95% participation in ECEC among children from the age of 4 within the European Union (EU) was almost achieved, with 94.8% participation. 

As an important determinant of later basic skills acquisition, this accomplishment demonstrates strong progress towards realising the Commission’s vision for the European Education Area.

On 3 March 2021, Commissioner Gabriel also presented the following deliverables contributing to the European Education Area initiative:

  • a toolkit for inclusive early childhood education and care
  • a report detailing measures to improve the recruitment, training and motivation of education and care professionals

The Council Resolution on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training towards the European Education Area and beyond (2021-2030) adopted in February 2021 sets a new target of 96% for the participation of children between three years old and the starting age for compulsory primary education in ECEC for Member States.


The European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) enshrined the importance of ECEC in its principle 11: ‘Children have the right to affordable early childhood education and care of good quality’.

On 4 March 2021, the European Commission presented the EPSR Action Plan, which reaffirmed that Europe must strive to increase the provision of formal ECEC. This commitment includes the participation of children below the age of 3 in ECEC, with the revision of the Barcelona targets.

The EU Quality Framework for ECEC annexed to the 2019 Council Recommendation for High-Quality ECEC Systems details the five pillars of high-quality ECEC systems: access, staff, curriculum, monitoring and evaluation, governance and funding.

On 24 March 2021, the European Commission proposed a Council Recommendation establishing the European Child Guarantee to ensure that children at risk of poverty and social exclusion have effective access to key services such as healthcare and education. 

The proposal outlines that EU Member States should guarantee free and effective access to ECEC to children in need. 

Related content

Toolkit for inclusive early childhood education and care 

Report on how to recruit, train and motivate well-qualified ECEC staff

Erasmus+ and Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) - Project results and analysis

Council recommendation on high-quality early childhood education and care systems (2019) 

Early childhood education and care

ET 2020 Working Group on early childhood education and care

European Education Area 

European Pillar of Social Rights 

Strategy on the Rights of the Child and European Child Guarantee

Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe, School Education Gateway

Header image: © iStock/nd3000, 2020.