Right to quality and inclusive education and sustainable public investment must be the key to the European Education Area 2025


On 3 November, the ETUCE Bureau adopted a position paper which is the reaction of 132 education trade unions in 51 countries to the European Commission’s most recent Communication on Achieving the European Education Area 2025. The European Commission’s communication presents ideas towards green and digital transition of education institutions and presents new benchmarks and indicators to be achieved by each EU country by 2025. A Recommendation of the Council of Education Ministers will be adopted on the same subject on 30 November.

The ETUCE’s position paper underlines that the European Education Area (EEA) should not only focus on the demands of the labour market. Teaching key competences, especially the transversal citizenship skills and social competences are important to achieve social cohesion, democratic values and combat radicalism. The indicators and benchmarks for future education and training should be based on trustworthy data on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on education.

Education trade unions regret that the Communication does not present effective actions to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights to achieve equal access to all students and teachers to quality and inclusive learning and training. ETUCE asks to respect the national competences of the EU member states in education and opposes any attempt to harmonising the education systems through proposals such as “automatic” mutual recognition, that would entail that the European Education Area is a coherent single education system for the whole of Europe.

The EEA should provide better career opportunities, high job security and social protection, and decent salary reaching the same level in every country as of other tertiary graduated employees. This includes defining teachers’ working time according to collective agreements in order to eliminate the unacceptable high number of working hours including the defined teaching hours and time for other duties e.g. administration, consultation, preparation, and research, especially in the context of increased levels of digitalisation in the teaching profession. We expect the meaningful involvement of the European and national education social partners at all stages of the design, implementation and assessment of education policies and a stronger role of social dialogue with the education trade unions.

ETUCE requests more public investment in education, with regards particularly to the forthcoming EU Next Generation and the Recovery plans to build well-resourced education systems based on public service values and democratic governance, against the cost-efficiency and financial consolidation policies, the increasing privatisation and demands for educational effectiveness.

The importance of full qualifications and holistic education should be respected. ETUCE asks the European Commission to refrain from suggesting to countries to extend micro-credentials to the formal education system that risk replacing full qualifications because this will have a detrimental effect on academic freedom and sustainable public investment to higher education, as well as on access to fair jobs and salary, career progression of graduates, inclusive education and equal opportunities in education and the labour market.

To read the full statement click here