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Quality education and training for all

Fourth European Education Summit: The Next Decade of European Education

After a challenging year, let’s take stock and look to the future of education and training in the European Union (EU).
9 December 2021

Thrive on quality education and training

After a challenging year, let’s take stock and look to the future of education and training in the European Union (EU).

  • How can the education sector be improved to the benefit of all?
  • How can education be made more inclusive and fair – from early childhood education and care to higher education and adult learning?
  • How can the well-being of teachers and pupils be improved?
  • How can smart investment lead to high-quality education and training?
  • What can be done to progress the green and digital transformations of the sector?

At this year’s European Education Summit, participants from across the EU will discuss ideas and best practices to search for answers to these questions and more.

The European Education Summit is the annual flagship event of the European Education Area, the EU’s shared vision for a modern and inclusive European education and training sector fit to face the digital and green transitions.

Here's what happened at the event

Below is the order of sessions with video recordings of each one.

General Moderator: Chris Burns, Broadcast and print journalist (Euronews, Bloomberg News, CNN, AP)

Opening statements

Watch the opening statements

Speech by the President of the European Commission

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

Opening statements

  • Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission, Promoting our European Way of Life
  • Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

Welcome by the Slovene Presidency of the Council of the EU

Simona Kustec, Minister for Education, Science, Youth and Sport, Slovenia


Sabine Verheyen, Member of the European Parliament, Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT)

Keynote speeches

Empowering youth: Teachers’ mission 

Watch the keynote speech

Speaker: Lidija Kralj, Senior Analyst, European Schoolnet


Regenerative education as a driver of socio-ecological sustainability: A whole-person, whole-school and whole-community perspective

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Speaker: Arjen Wals, Professor of Transformative Learning for Socio-Ecological Sustainability, Wageningen University


Education and well-being: The 2021 Education and Training Monitor unveiled 

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Presentation of the 2021 Education and Training Monitor by Themis Christophidou, Director-General, DG EAC, European Commission, followed by a moderated discussion with Susanne Conze, Head of Unit, Country analysis, DG EAC, and Bartek Lessaer, Policy Officer, Evidence-Based Policy and Evaluation, DG EAC. 

  • Themis Christophidou, Director-General, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC), European Commission
  • Susanne Conze, Head of Unit, Country analysis, DG EAC, European Commission
  • Bartek Lessaer, Policy Officer, Evidence-Based Policy and Evaluation, DG EAC, European Commission

Highlights from the 2021 European Innovative Teaching Award

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Wrap-up of the pilot edition of the European Innovative Teaching Award and panel discussion with European Commissioner, Mariya Gabriel, and 2021 laureates of the Award.


Parallel high-level panels

European Strategy for Universities 

Watch the high-level panel

This high-level panel will discuss the European Strategy for Universities, which the Commission, under the umbrella of the European Education Area and the renewed European Research Area, is currently co-creating together with the broad higher education and research communities and EU Member States (foreseen for Commission adoption in January 2022).  

The panel will consider how to empower the higher education sector in recovering from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and how to promote long-term structural transformations for inclusive and future-proof learning, teaching and research. The European Universities initiative and the new European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) pilot on Innovation Capacity Building for Higher Education can play an instrumental role. The session will showcase Commission initiatives and best practices. 


  • Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner, Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth
  • Manuel Castells Oliván, Minister of Universities, Spain
  • Nikolai Denkov, Minister of Education and Science, Bulgaria
  • Maria Cristina Messa, Minister for Universities and Research, Italy
  • József Bódis, Minister of State for Higher Education, Innovation and Vocational Education and Training, Hungary
  • Snježana Prijić-Samaržija, Rector, University of Rijeka (YUFE European University)
  • Jakub Grodecki, Vice-President, European Students’ Union (ESU)


  • Themis Christophidou, Director-General, DG EAC, European Commission
  • Jean-Eric Paquet, Director-General, DG RTD, European Commission

Teachers’ and students’ well-being 

Watch the high-level panel

Research indicates that incorporating mental health, social and emotional learning, well-being and bullying prevention programmes in schools is one of the most effective strategies to support the psychological well-being of children and young people, including disadvantaged and marginalised children, and to enhance their chances to succeed at school and in later life. 

The session will elaborate on strategies to enhance students’ and teachers’ well-being as conditions for inclusive education and better educational outcomes. It will use examples of policies and activities from the national level to that of schools. 


  • Justyne Caruana, Minister for Education, Malta
  • Norma Foley, Minister for Education, Ireland
  • Ben Weyts, Vice-Minister-President of the Government of Flanders and Flemish Minister for Education, Sports, Animal Welfare and Vlaamse Rand, Belgium
  • Cristian Pîrvulescu, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Honorary President of the Pro-Democracy Association (APD) and Dean of the Faculty of Political and Administrative Studies (SNSPA)
  • Barbara Novinec, President, European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE)
  • Marie Linde Husby, Psychologist, The Student Counselling Service, Denmark


Michael Teutsch, Head of Unit, Schools and Multilingualism, DG EAC, European Commission

Parallel high-level panels

Inclusive education: A step towards a more equal and cohesive society 

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The EU supports Member States in fostering social inclusion and building cohesive societies. More investment in education is a key lever for an inclusive green, digital recovery, as well as quality jobs, as confirmed by EU leaders at the Porto Social Summit.

The Commission helps to build a solid evidence base on how to best invest in education. Policy actions, such as the Pathways to School Success initiative, the Centres of Vocational Excellence and a European approach to micro-credentials, can boost investment in skills for better socio-economic outcomes.

Following extensive consultations throughout 2021 on several of these initiatives, this panel presents the opportunity to reflect on strategic orientations for future inclusive reforms.


  • Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner, Jobs and Social Rights
  • Li Andersson, Minister of Education, Finland
  • Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Ireland
  • Sorin-Mihai Cîmpeanu, Minister of Education, Romania
  • Larry Flanagan, President, European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE)
  • Alexey Vladimirov Pamporov, Associate Professor and Deputy Head of Department Knowledge Society: Science, Education, and Innovations, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences


Dora Husz, Head of Sector, Strategy and Investments, DG EAC, European Commission


Strategies for a successful digital education transformation

Watch the high-level panel

What needs to happen to make high-quality digital education across Europe a reality? What can Member States and the EU bring to the table? And why do we need to act now?

The Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027) puts strategy at the heart of implementing ambitious, inclusive and accessible digital education. This panel will tackle the most pressing issues and will address how to best translate visions and strategies for digital education into specific outputs at the level of Member States and the EU, while taking into account the regional and local dimension where this is possible. Key issues include: providing a way forward to tackle gaps in connectivity and the availability of digital equipment in schools, strengthening teachers’ digital pedagogy, paving the way for closer dialogue and addressing how to digitise best in an inclusive manner. 

The discussions will feed into the Structured Dialogue on digital education and skills with Member States launched in October 2021. Based on the outcomes of the Structured Dialogue, the Commission will propose by the end of 2022 proposals for two Council Recommendations: one on the enabling factors for successful digital education and one on improving the provision of digital skills in education and training.


  • Prodromos Prodromou, Minister of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth, Cyprus
  • Jindřich Fryč, State secretary of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, Czech Republic
  • Victor Negrescu, Member of the European Parliament, Vice-Chair, Committee on Culture and Education (CULT)
  • Anne Karjalainen, Chair of SEDEC (Commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment and Culture), Committee of the Regions (CoR), and Chair of Kerava City Council
  • Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, Director-General, Digital Europe


Themis Christophidou, Director-General, DG EAC, European Commission


Education and environmental sustainability and its link to the Education for Climate Coalition and the New Bauhaus initiative

Watch the high-level panel

The EU's European Green Deal is a call for deeper collaboration to reorient the economy and society and to learn to respect the boundaries of our planet. Education and training are key to this process, supporting the development of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed for this transition. Schools, universities and other education institutions are increasingly looking not only at how pupils and students learn about and take action on sustainability, but also at how this action as a whole can become more sustainable, reducing its ecological footprint and working with local and wider communities on environmental issues.

Innovative, co-created EU initiatives like the New European Bauhaus and the Education for Climate Coalition provide opportunities for experimentation and connection within the education community and beyond. This panel will debate what education and training for the green transition means and how the bottom-up, co-designed New European Bauhaus and Education for Climate Coalition contribute to our learning and collaboration for a sustainable future. 


  • Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner, Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth
  • Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner, Environment, Oceans and Fisheries
  • Alejandro Tiana, Secretary of State for Education, Spain
  • Zoltán Maruzsa, Minister of State for Public Education, Hungary
  • Christoph Leitl, President, EUROCHAMBRES
  • Teresa Oberhauser, Global Focal Point, Youth Constituency of UNEP


Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot, Director, Youth, Education and Erasmus+, DG EAC, European Commission.


Education for active citizenship

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Active European citizenship builds on a sound understanding of the EU and its values, as well as on the proper functioning of its institutions. The  Eurobarometer on EU Citizenship and Democracy from July 2020 clearly indicates a link between the need for more information about the impact of the EU on our daily lives and increasing the turn-out at EU elections. Making this information available should be a priority in order to enable and empower European citizens to actively involve themselves in European policy debates, such as the ongoing Conference on the Future of Europe.

The Union addresses this need through various channels, from the EU Learning Corner to the European Parliament’s Ambassador School Programme. Since 2021, the Jean Monnet for Schools action also contributes to this goal by enhancing teaching and learning on the EU in schools.


  • Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President of the European Commission, Democracy and Demography  
  • Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, Minister of Education, Portugal
  • Emil Boc, Member of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture (SEDEC), and Mayor of Cluj-Napoca
  • Tatjana Babrauskienė, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Head of International Relations, Lithuanian Education and Science Trade Union
  • Nini Tsiklauri, Board Member, Pulse of Europe


Stefan Zotti, Team Leader, Strategy and Investments, DG EAC, European Commission


The global dimension of education

Watch the high-level panel

Across the world, the education community is facing similar challenges, among which how to improve the effectiveness and outreach of education, so that it can foster the development of the essential skills required for maximum individual, societal and economic development. In the wider policy context, education is not only the focus of a group of specific objectives under the United Nations’ fourth sustainable development goal (SDG), it will also play a central role in training the practitioners and decision-makers who will play a central role in achieving the other SDGs. The COVID-19 pandemic has created another common denominator for all countries worldwide – we have all witnessed varying degrees of weakness in our education systems.

We all aim to build resilient and inclusive education systems that can resist emergencies, such as pandemics. Education and training systems are vital to fueling the post-pandemic recovery. How can we help the class of 2020-21 to catch up? 

This panel provides a sample of the main priorities in education policy around the world and how these challenges are being addressed.  What are the best ways to cooperate around the world on these challenges? Outside of the EU, how can we combine forces and ensure complementarity between EU initiatives and national ones – a Team Europe approach? 


  • Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner, Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth
  • Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner, International Partnerships
  • Patrizio Bianchi, Minister of Education, Italy
  • Cheikh Oumar Anne,  Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, Senegal
  • Majlinda Bregu, Secretary General, Regional Cooperation Council (RCC)
  • Afshan Khan, Regional Director, UNICEF Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia 


Themis Christophidou, Director-General, DG EAC, European Commission


Future education trends and developments 

Watch the high-level panel

Education is a future-oriented policy area by its very nature. Nothing anticipates what citizens and the planet will need tomorrow like education. Therefore, the Commission is seeking to increase its foresight capacity, including in the field of education. A number of Commission reports have recently examined ‘megatrends’, such as climate change, evolutions in demography and future paths of economic growth, that are likely to impact the functioning of classrooms, school curricula and skills development. This panel will discuss how policymakers at the EU, national, regional and local levels can use the results of education foresight to prepare for and address future challenges.


  • Manuel Heitor, Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Portugal
  • Niki Kerameus, Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, Greece
  • Gillian Coughlan, Member of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture (SEDEC), and Mayor of Cork County
  • Lyliana Pavlova, Vice-President, European Investment Bank (EIB)
  • Ligia Deca, Presidential Adviser, Department of Education and Research, Romania


Akis Kyriacou, Deputy Head of Unit, Evidence-Based Policy and Evaluation, DG EAC, European Commission

Closing statements

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Statement by the future French presidency of the Council of the EU

  • Jean-Michel Blanquer, Minister of National Education, Youth and Sports, France
  • Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, France

Concluding remarks

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Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner, Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth


Summit follow up online

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