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European Education Area and alliances of European Universities

Development of the European Education Area is one of the priorities of Finland’s Presidency. The European Education Area plans to strengthen the Erasmus+ programme, increase investment in education, improve language learning, increase the quality of early childhood education and care, promote lifelong learning and create alliances of European Universities.

In November 2017, the European Commission announced that it seeks to establish the European Education Area by 2025. This would mean a Europe where borders do not hamper learning, studying and conducting research, and where spending time abroad to study, learn or work has become the norm.

Cooperation in education and training addresses huge challenges

On 8 November, the Education, Youth, Culture and Sports Council (EYCS) will pursue the adoption of a resolution on the European Education Area in support of forward looking education systems. Finland's objective is to leverage the resolution in developing the European cooperation in education and training in the long term. Through this cooperation, the EU can better respond to the major social challenges that affect everybody, such as climate change or the transformation of work caused by technological changes. At the same time, all citizens will be able to keep up with these developments. 

The education sector is also looking for means to strengthen the common European knowledge base and to foster evidence-based decision-making, for example by developing anticipation practices. In this way, the European Education Area could help member states develop their education systems to better meet the challenges facing us in the years ahead. 

During its Presidency, Finland will launch a political debate on the need for promoting continuous learning systematically and strategically, as well the importance of doing so, along with the required methods. Finland's objective is for the Council to adopt conclusions on the matter.

In addition, ministers of education will hold a public debate in the Council on the significance and opportunities of artificial intelligence in education and training.

Erasmus budget negotiations

Erasmus+ is the European Union’s education, youth and sports programme for 2014–2020. During this period, the programme will support over 4 million young people, students and adults to train, study, volunteer or have a work placement abroad.

Erasmus+ provides organisations with diverse development and networking opportunities, including strategic improvement of the professional skills of their staff, organisational capacity building, and transnational cooperative partnerships with organisations from other countries.

In the autumn, Finland will lead the negotiations on the proposal for a regulation concerning the following programme period (2021–2027). The Presidency will advance the talks on the next Erasmus programme period during the trilogue meetings between the EU institutions. The objective is to begin the trilogue negotiations in late September or early October. Finland is committed to doubling the budget for the Erasmus programme.

Education and finance ministers meet

EYCS and the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) will hold a joint meeting on 8 November in the morning. This is the first time a meeting such as this has been arranged. The ministers will use this opportunity to discuss a topic that concerns the implementation of the Strategic Agenda: a strong economic base for Europe through seeking effectiveness, efficiency and quality of education. 

The first pilot phase of the European Universities initiative will begin during Finland’s Presidency, towards the end of 2019. The second call for proposals will be launched at the same time. On 7 November, on the day before the EYCS meeting, Finland will hold, in partnership with the Commission, an informal dinner for the ministers where they will have a chance to further discuss the European Universities alliances.