Delivering on the European Education Area: Inclusive, high-quality early childhood education and care

Publication date: 03/03/2021
European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel presents outputs of the Working Group on Early Childhood Education and Care.
Child looking at map

Preparing children for future educational success

Today, at the event ‘Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe: A focus on inclusion and staff professionalisation’, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, presented outputs of the Working Group on Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), namely:

The documents are the results of two years of cooperation within the European Commission Working Group, which gathered representatives from:

  • national Ministries responsible for ECEC systems in 35 countries
  • eight European organisations
  • European Agencies and international organisations

The toolkit was announced as a deliverable in the Commission Communication on achieving the European Education Area by 2025 and represents an important step towards realising the vision of the Commission and European Union (EU) Member States.

Inclusive, high-equality ECEC

The inclusion toolkit explores how decision makers can foster inclusive ECEC systems and access to quality care through a range of policy measures and practices.

For example, it considers how to most effectively support children with disabilities and those with a migrant background who might need additional linguistic support. 

Enhancing the inclusiveness of ECEC systems is essential to improving the quality of early childhood education and care and individuals’ potential for skills acquisition and educational success later in life.

Inclusion in education at all levels is a priority for the Commission and EU Member States under the European Education Area initiative as outlined in the Communication on achieving the European Education Area by 2025 and the Council Resolution on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training towards the European Education Area and beyond (2021-2030). 

Recruiting and motivating qualified ECEC staff

Well-qualified staff are key to providing high-quality and inclusive education and care to children. The guidelines on how to recruit, train and motivate well-qualified ECEC staff examine:

  • the broad range of professions and profiles of ECEC staff
  • the need to better recognise the value of their work
  • various approaches to make ECEC professions more attractive
  • the contribution of well-trained staff to ensuring the quality of education and care

The conclusions of the inclusion toolkit and the guidelines are summarised in the short final report of the Working Group, alongside the Group’s methodology. 

Decision makers at national and local levels, ECEC leaders and staff are encouraged to use the results of the Working Group to support the improvement of the quality of ECEC and its systems, as defined in the Council Recommendation on Early Childhood Education and Care.

Erasmus+: supporting ECEC professionalisation

An analysis of Erasmus+ projects related to ECEC was also presented today. The analysis includes a selection of projects and their results highlighting how they contribute to improving access to and the quality of ECEC provision across Europe. 

It seeks to encourage more ECEC staff and organisations to participate in the Erasmus+ programme to improve their practice and to support professional development.

Dedicated inclusion measures have been introduced in the new Erasmus+ programme to seek to better promote social inclusion and to improve outreach to people with fewer opportunities in the fields of education, training, youth and sport. 

Find out more

In case you missed it, catch up on the event ‘Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe: A focus on inclusion and staff professionalisation’ by watching the recording.

A series of dedicated webinars on early childhood education and care will follow. Stay tuned and follow us at:


Image: © Unsplash/Annie Spratt, 2017.