Why are we building the European Education Area?
Education is the foundation for personal fulfilment, employability and active, responsible citizenship. It is essential to the vitality of European societies and economies. Access to quality and inclusive education, training and lifelong learning is a right for all citizens, as enshrined within the European Pillar of Social Rights.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted that it is essential to prevent structural barriers to learning and skills development from impacting citizens’ employment prospects and participation in society.
The European Education Area will work in synergy with the European Skills Agenda and the European Research Area to harness knowledge, making it the foundation of Europe’s recovery and prosperity.
Focus areas for collaboration
The European Commission and European Union (EU) Member States are working to achieve their collective vision for a European Education Area by focusing their efforts on
- improving quality and equity in education and training
- teachers, trainers and school leaders
- digital education
- green education
- the EEA in the world
See what the EU is doing at each education level
- early childhood education and care
- school education
- higher education
- adult learning
- vocational education and training
A reinforced approach to achieving the EEA
The idea to create a European Education Area was first endorsed by European leaders at the 2017 Social Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden. The first packages of measures were adopted in 2018 and 2019.
As a result of decades of close cooperation, significant progress has already been made, with
- almost 95% of children attending early childhood education from the age of 4
- more than 40% of young adults acquiring a higher education qualification
- almost 90% of young people leaving education with either an upper secondary diploma or enrolment in training
- 80% of recent Erasmus+ graduates gaining employment in less than 3 months after graduating
These results represent strong progress, but further work is still required, in particular concerning
- the share of 15-year-olds with low ability in reading, maths and science
- the participation of adults in learning
The next steps
In September 2020, the Commission outlined its renewed vision for the European Education Area and the concrete actions to achieve it in a Commission Communication.
The Council of the EU responded with a February 2021 Resolution on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training for the period 2021-2030.
The strategic framework
The strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training will support the achievement of the European Education Area by
- supporting EU Member States in their reforms of education and training systems
- enhancing synergies with other policy areas such as research and innovation, social policy, employment or youth, and with EU funding instruments to better support national reforms
- identifying targets and indicators to guide work and monitor progress
The strategic framework provides the essential structure for collaboration between Member States and key stakeholders to achieve their collective vision.
The content and structure of Member States’ education and training systems remain the competence of the relevant national or regional authorities.