An opinion from the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) emphasised the need to strengthen citizens' knowledge and understanding of EU history and culture, fundamental values and rights, core principles and decisions, and the decision-making processes at EU level.

The opinion (SOC/612-EESC-2018) was developed by the EESC Workers’ Group in cooperation with the EESC Group of civil society organisations following the request by the Romanian EU Council Presidency. The EESC presents data from Eurobarometer No. 89 as a reminder that EU citizens have still not developed a full EU identity, 60 years after the Treaty of Rome. Currently, 93% of EU citizens feel attached to their country, of which 57% are very attached, and 89% feel attached to their "city/town/village". However, only 56% say that they feel attached to the EU, and only 14% feel "very attached".

The opinion also cites studies and research which identify a significant gap between policy and practice on citizenship education, and which show that nearly half of EU member states still have no rules or recommendations concerning citizenship education in initial teacher education. While citizenship appears in teachers' continuous professional development, school heads do not receive continuous professional development on this issue, says the report.

The EESC therefore develops a set of recommendations to European and national level policymakers, so that they can improve education about the European Union at all levels of education, including to adults, considering formal, informal and non-formal learning.

The ETUCE strongly supports the EESC’s vision that all EU citizens should learn and be aware of their role and responsibilities for participating in a democratic decision-making process at all levels. In particular, the idea of training teachers to develop their citizenship education competences should be high up on the European agenda.

To access the full explanatory opinion (including examples of good practices), please click here.