Education is first and foremost the concern of the Member States. At European level, however, education ministers can coordinate their national policies. The stated aim of European education policy is to create more jobs and promote growth through strengthening basic and advanced education and training, and to help Member States shape national policy through the exchange of experience at European level.
Priority areas are the mobility of students and teachers, learning languages, cooperation between educational establishments, and initial and continuing vocational training.
The overall objective is to make the various education systems of the EU Member States more transparent. Through the Bologna Process, the European Union intends, together with other European states, to create a common European space for higher education by 2010.
Removing barriers hindering access to courses of study and developing a system for comparing qualifications should lead to greater freedom of movement between higher education institutions in Europe. The Bruges-Copenhagen Process supports the idea of transparent and comparable qualifications in vocational education and training.
The European Union has already set aside funding for educational exchange between Member States. 2007 sees the start of the programme "Lifelong Learning", which promotes the mobility of students, trainees and young employees, as well as pilot projects in the area of education.
Education is the key to individual life chances – to people's cultural, economic and social participation. This explains the central role of education policy in the EU's Lisbon Strategy. The sum of the individual life chances of European citizens is crucial for the competitiveness of European industry, for social cohesion and, last but not least, for the integration of the member states on the basis of common values and a common understanding of democracy and the rule of law. With this awareness and these education policy goals in mind, we will seek to make further progress in the central fields of action of European education cooperation:
We will discuss current education policy priorities from the Education Ministers’ "Education and Training 2010" work programme at the Informal Meeting of Education Ministers in Heidelberg (1 to 2 March 2007) and encourage progress in this area. One of the objectives is to enable the Ministers to discuss "Europe: its values, its future" against the background of the importance of common values for the process of European integration and to thus promote the debate on education’s contribution to the development of common values in Europe.
The trend towards “evidence-based policies” is becoming an increasingly important feature of national and European developments. Well-founded, empirical education research is necessary for the effective realization of central aims in the area of education. This also applies to the central fields of action in EU education cooperation. The work programme of the EU Education Ministers also attaches considerable significance to control instruments based on empirical research. The conference entitled “Knowledge for Action. Research Strategies for an Evidence-Based Education Policy”, which will be held in Frankfurt from 28 to 30 March 2007, is intended as a European platform for an exchange of information and experience in this area.