ETUCE Conference ‘Education in Europe: Public Investment, Privatisation and Reforms: What role do education trade unions play?’


Today, 30 May 2017, ETUCE is hosting a Conference titled: ‘Education in Europe: Public Investment, Privatisation and Reforms – What role do education trade unions play?’, in Brussels. The one-day event marks the culmination of the ETUCE-led project ‘Investing in Education: Strengthening the involvement of teacher trade unions in the European Semester on Education and Training’ that was carried out from 2015 to 2017. With this conference, ETUCE brings together around a hundred participants from ETUCE member organisations from across Europe, social partners, the European Commission, as well as other stakeholders. In line with the commitments and decisions taken by the 2016 ETUCE Conference, the ETUCE Conference aims at sharing effective practices on the active involvement of education trade unions in the European Semester on education and training. This is done with a view to advocate for sufficient, predictable and equitable long-term financing of education and to protect public education systems against the detrimental effects of budgetary and reform policies across Europe.

The event is also the occasion to unveil the outcomes of an important ETUCE Research “Education and Training Policy in the European Semester. Public Investment, Public Policy, Social Dialogue and Privatisation Patterns across Europe”, conducted by the University of Nottingham, aimed at identifying the effects of the European Semester on education reforms at the national level and privatisation patterns in education across Europe. Presented by the principal investigator, prof Howard Stevenson, it reveals to what extent market and business driven ideology and approaches in education, combined with strict budgetary and financial rules within the EU, are leading to the commodification, privatisation and marketisation in and of education. The research results are feeding in the ETUCE Complementary Strategy Plan on the EI Global response to Commercialisation and Privatisation in/of Education. Commenting on the report, ETUCE European Director Susan Flocken said “the research reveals a mounting degree of internal privatisation in education across Europe. We, the educators, have a responsibility to oppose this trend and to defend the value of education beyond economic interests and market-driven ideology”.

Organised in four thematic sessions, ranging from 1) the effects of the European Semester and European cooperation on national reforms of education and training systems, 2) the role of education trade unions in policy making, 3) education investment patterns across Europe and 4) the need to develop strong social dialogue to rebalance economic and social priorities, the Conference directly supports the future work of education trade unions at the European and national level in the field of education financing and policy making. It also serves as a knowledge-enhancing tool to prepare the national social dialogue in education in the framework of the European Semester. To maximize national opportunities to influence the Semester on education and training,  ETUCE member organisations are also provided with a Practical Guide, as an important project result.

Opening the Conference, Flocken stated that “this Conference is organised just a few days after the publication of the European Commission’s Country Specific Recommendations, which represent a key-stage in the European Semester. This timely occurrence makes the context particularly appropriate for constructive debates and reflections on the current state of public investment, privatisation patterns and reforms, as well as the strategies for education trade unions to engage in social dialogue on new policies, that is exactly where it needs to take place if the professional voice of teachers is to be inserted in the policy making and to contribute to building the future of new generations”.

Presentations H Stevenson pt1 - pt2, A Gavrielatos, P Cammilli, D Obidniak, K Aaltonen