EU finance and education ministers discussed role of education and training in achieving sustainable growth
Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union was the first to arrange a joint policy debate for the finance and education ministers of EU member states. The debate took place on 8 November 2019 in Brussels. The ministers discussed the role of education and training in promoting wellbeing and driving sustainable growth in the long term.
Finland’s Minister of Finance Mika Lintilä and Minister of Education Li Andersson invited their counterparts from the other EU member states to have an exchange of views on the basis of the following questions:
- What kind of policy measures would best promote efficiency, effectiveness and equality in education and training?
- How can we achieve high-quality learning outcomes, a high level of education and equality in education?
- What role would EU-level cooperation play in further strengthening the high quality of education and training in the future?
After the joint policy debate, the finance and education ministers continued with their own separate Council meetings.
EU finance ministers’ agenda items included taxation and climate finance
At the Economic and Financial Affairs Council, the finance ministers of EU member states reached agreement on legislative proposals that will strengthen cooperation between national tax authorities and payment service providers in the fight against VAT fraud. Under the proposals, payment service providers will be required to report data on cross-border payments. The information will be collected in an electronic system that could be used by the anti-fraud authorities of member states to facilitate tax fraud detection.
The Council also reached political agreement on a reform of the VAT rules, with the aim of reducing the administrative burden on small businesses. The proposal broadens the rules on VAT exemption for small companies so that they can use the VAT exemption across the EU.
The Council adopted conclusions on climate finance that confirm the strong support of the EU and its member states for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
The meeting agenda also included excise duty issues and the state of play regarding tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy. The Finnish Presidency informed ministers about a draft joint statement of the Council and the Commission on stablecoins to be agreed at the December Council.
EU education ministers’ themes included lifelong learning and artificial intelligence
At the Education, Youth, Culture and Sports Council (Education), the EU education ministers adopted conclusions on lifelong learning that highlight the role of lifelong learning in supporting sustainable growth and addressing the technological transition and climate change.
The education ministers also had an exchange of views on artificial intelligence in education and training. During its Presidency, Finland is promoting the adoption of human-centric, ethically sustainable artificial intelligence in Europe. The opportunities offered by artificial intelligence could be better utilised in education and training.
In addition, the Council also adopted a resolution on further developing the European Education Area. Under the resolution, the ministers agree to support future-oriented and strategic education and training policies in the European Union.