ETUCE position on Implementation of the European Education Area 2021-2030

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Following up on the European Commission’s Communication on Achieving the European Education Area by 2025, the Education Council of the European Union adopted a Council Resolution on 19 February 2021 that establishes the European Education Area as the new strategic framework for the European cooperation in education and training for the period 2021-2030. This Council Resolution replaces the ET2020 Strategic Framework and sets up new targets, indicators and benchmarks for national education systems to be achieved by 2030.

ETUCE’s latest position paper on the European Education Area is intended to integrate the previous ETUCE positions on the European Education Area (March 2018; July 2020; November 2020) by offering an additional reflection on how the new framework answers teachers’ needs and demands. The document acknowledges the progress made in recognising the importance of the attractiveness of the teaching profession, gender equality within the profession, and fair working conditions of teachers. ETUCE demands strengthened social dialogue, better quality jobs and employment conditions, contractual status, career prospects and rewards - including decent salaries, a supportive structure for continuous professional development of teachers, and supportive measures to ensure a fair and just digital and green transition.

The text points out that on many aspects the Council Resolution constitutes a step backwards compared to previous political agreements. ETUCE welcomes that the European Council extended the strategic framework until 2030, instead of 2025 as it was originally proposed by the European Commission as a 5-year timeframe is not sufficient to implement inclusive education reforms and outcomes that are shared, sustainable and future-proof. In order to meet the objectives, full involvement of the education trade unions is essential to the European Education Area Platform.

ETUCE also welcomes that the new 10-year strategic framework envisions education from a holistic perspective, while respecting national competences and the principle of subsidiarity. To achieve the targets of the initiative, it is important to ensure the holistic perspective on education, learning and well-being of the students and teachers. In the context of the green and digital transition of industries and the labour market, ETUCE emphasises that the digital and green transition of the education sector should be a crucial priority. However, the Council Resolution misses outlining any concrete actions to enable teachers and trainers to develop digital and green skills and competences, e.g. to guarantee that teachers and trainers have free access to in-service quality and inclusive training programmes on green and digital skills, as well as on adequate pedagogical and didactical use of ICT.  ETUCE regrets that the Council Resolution omits to mention the importance of ensuring decent salaries and fair working conditions for teachers and education staff.

Financing of education must be adequate to produce recovery and to overcome weaknesses in education systems, the economy and society. In its Statement on Investment Priorities for Recovery and Resilience, ETUCE has reiterated the call to governments to boost education financing to at least 6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to reverse the decade-long trend of decreasing investment.

The full participation of education trade unions in the development, monitoring and evaluation of education policies and reforms that directly affect teachers is essential. We regret that the resolution does not mention the role of social dialogue and education trade unions. ETUCE asks the European Union institutions to reaffirm and strengthen the participation of education social partners within the governance of the new ten-year framework at EU, national, regional and local levels.  

The ETUCE position on “A new framework for the Implementation of the European Education Area 2021-2030” can be found here