Acknowledging the broad effect of the European economic governance process on education and training reforms at national level, and considering education as the priority lever for progress, ETUCE monitors all the phases of the new European economic governance process (European Semester) with a view to promote the European teacher unions’ vision of quality education for all. Since 2011, under the strain of the economic and financial crisis, the coordinated economic governance has failed to deliver a sustainable recovery. On the contrary, based on the austerity dogma, implemented structural reforms are dramatically deteriorating education and training systems, as well as teachers’ professional and personal wellbeing and education outcomes. In the context of the current austerity policies, many governments are opening the way to increasing privatisation of potentially profitable education services by free enterprise interests, thus jeopardizing across Europe free access to quality education for all, which is in ETUCE’s view one of the fundamental pillars of a just and democratic society. ETUCE has long been campaigning and mobilizing its member organisations for Quality of Education in Europe, proposing teachers’ alternative approaches to improving education systems based on growth-enhancing investment and solidarity rather than economic and social competition.

ETUCE is coordinating actions both at national and European level to address the challenges arising from the European economic governance process. The European economic governance process – also known as the European Semester process – has a major influence on national reforms and programmes on education and training. Through the European Semester, the European Commission undertakes a detailed analysis of the economic and structural reform programmes of the EU Member States and provides them with recommendations on the next year's budget allocation. These are the Country Specific Recommendations, which are provided to most of the EU countries also on education and training budget. ETUCE main focus is to follow up on the yearly process of the European Semester, and to increase trade unions' participation, visibility and impact on the process.

Policy

  • In March 2020, ETUCE published a thematic overview and comment on the European Commission's 2020 Country Reports in the education and training field, a component of the 2020 Winter Package of the 2020 European Semester process. Providing the thematic overview of the education-related priorities, ETUCE raises concerns about the worrying levels of inequity in education systems resulting from public underinvestment, low attractiveness of the teaching profession and a narrow focus on the marketable aspects of education. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak that has impacted all schools across Europe, ETUCE additionally recalls the importance of ensuring free, quality, public education for all.
  • In September 2019, ETUCE publishes its education priorities for the Annual Growth Survey (AGS) 2020 as a kick-off to the European Semester 2020. The paper outlines the policy challenges and priorities for the education sector in 2020. The paper addresses the on-going underinvestment on education, the simultaneous increase of the level of private investments to finance education systems and the shift towards a dominance of economic prerogatives over educational objectives. It demands a change towards inclusive and high quality education that boosts skills, knowledge and critical thinking, and where teachers and other education personnel are provided with the resources, tools and professional space they need.
  • In March 2019, ETUCE published its comments on European Commission’s 2019 Country Reports in the education and training field, a component of the 2019 Winter Package of the 2019 European Semester process. Providing the thematic overview of the education-related priorities, the comments acknowledges the favourable economic scenario within the EU highlighted by the reports, but warns against tensions between the budgetary constraints and fiscal rules imposed by the EU and the needed public resources for the implementation of the rights and principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights.
  • In September 2018, ETUCE published its education priorities for the Annual Growth Survey (AGS) 2019. The paper outlines policy challenges and priorities for the education sector in the 2019 AGS. Addressing the decrease on public expenditure on educational institutions, the paper calls for elevating high quality education investment as a political priority to resume economic growth and progress towards social justice. The paper warns against teacher shortages, prioritising boosting professional and working conditions of education personnel. Last but not least, emphasising the first principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights, it sets as at target making quality education a reality for all.
  • In September 2017, ahead of the social partners’ consultations on the Annual Growth Survey (AGS) 2018, ETUCE issued the education priorities on the AGS 2018. The paper outlines policy challenges and priorities for the education sector in the 2018 Annual Growth Survey (AGS), recalling that educational objectives, together with employment and social considerations, were a priority in the most recent European Semester cycles. However, the paper warns about the dominance of economic issues over  broad education policy objectives in the European Semester context, relegating education to be only a tool of a supply-side economic policy. The paper is in line with the ETUC priorities on the AGS 2018.
  • In September 2016, ETUCE has issued the ETUCE priorities on the Annual Growth Survey 2017. The paper outlines the policy challenges and priorities for the education sector in the 2017 that the Annual Growth Survey (AGS) should take into account to achieve high quality education across Europe. The paper is in line and follows on the ETUC priorities on the AGS 2017 and includes the need to boost public investment in education and the challenges to inclusive education and equality.
  • ETUCE Position on the Investment plan for Europe is a call to the European leaders to take a holistic view on growth-enhancing investments for Europe; to regulate and clarify the role of public-private partnership in deploying the new funds settled by the Investment Plan for Europe of the European Commission in education infrastructures; and to maintain and develop the public responsibility and public investment in education.
  • ETUCE Statement on CSRs 2014 on education and training, (June 2014) affirms that country specific recommendations of the European Semester 2014 have an extremely broad effect on education and training. Nevertheless, the effects of the crisis in education due to underfinancing have not been addressed sufficiently. 2014-2015 CSRs lack a clear vision of targeted investments aiming at long-term strategic objectives; do not take into consideration the view of central actors in the education environment such as teachers, and insufficiently involve social partners in their design and implementation.
  • The ETUCE Statement on the European Commission proposals in the framework of the European Semester 2012, which asserts that education is a public service whose objective cannot be profit, but the gift of 'opportunity to all citizens to receive quality training and to get a chance for better qualification and employment'.

Membership

Trade unions experts on education and training as well as higher education discuss the issue of coordinated influence on Country Specific Recommendations at national level and overall involvement in the European Semester in the permanent committees of ETUCE, in particular the Advisory Panel and the Higher Education and Research Standing Committee. ETUCE is member of the ETUC working group on Economic and Employment Committee where ETUC members and European Trade Union Federation coordinate their actions to influence the European Semester. ETUCE is also member of the European Alliance for a Democratic, Social and Sustainable European Semester (Semester Alliance), a broad coalition bringing together major European civil-society organisations and trade unions aiming at strengthening engagement in the European Semester.

Actions

  • On 12-13 December, education trade union representatives from across EU countries gathered in Brussels to acquire new knowledge, share practices and elaborate strategies to intervene effectively in the European Semester process. The training seminar was organised by ETUCE in partnership with the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI). The ETUCE-ETUI seminar offered participants the occasion to learn more about the EU’s macroeconomic framework, and to reflect on possibilities for a more social, open and democratic European Semester. Participants debated with European Commission officials about how they can better integrate their voice in the process and shared their own stories of getting involved.
  • On 1 October 2019, ETUCE co-hosted together with the European Public Service Union’s (EPSU) a conference in the framework of the two-year long ‘Public service trade unions and effective intervention in the European Semester’ project. In that occasion, a research was launched by the European Social Observatory (OSE) and the University of Nottingham. ETUCE and EPSU representatives from more than 50 trade union organisations gathered to discuss case studies and the trade unions’ sectoral contribution to the European Semester.
  • On 11 April 2019, two reports on the European Pillar of Social Rights’ influence over the European Semester and on the role of trade unions in the European Semester process have been published in the framework of the European Commission-funded project Public Service Trade Unions – Effective Intervention in the European Semester. The reports, ‘The European Semester – an analysis of the 2017-2018 cycle’ and ‘The European Semester: A literature review’, were elaborated by a research team at the University of Nottingham, for this project coordinated by the European Federation of Public Services Unions (EPSU), the University of Nottingham and the European Social Observatory (OSE), with ETUCE’s support. More information on this here.
  • In October 2018, ETUCE attended the European Public Service Union’s (EPSU) conference organised in the framework of the two-year long ‘Public service trade unions and effective intervention in the European Semester’ project. ETUCE is partner to EPSU’s project, while research for the project is being provided by the European Social Observatory (OSE) and the University of Nottingham. The conference gathered representatives of public service trade unions to discuss on the impact that the European Semester has had on their work and sectors, and also to explore possible avenues for trade unions to intervene in the European Semester process. More information on this here.
  • In 2017, at the occasion of the Conference ‘Education in Europe: Public Investment, Privatisation and Reforms: What role do education trade unions play?’, ETUCE released both a research report on the impact of the European Semester on education and training across Europe and a Practical guide for education trade unions to strengthen their involvement on the European Semester (2017), with the aim of supporting ETUCE member organisations in their strategies to influence the various phases of the Semester.
  • During 2016-2017, ETUCE has carried out the project Investing in education: Strengthening the involvement of teacher trade unions in the European Semester on education and training. The project seeks to provide specific knowledge to teacher unions to be more involved in the European Semester process, and to shed some light on the effects of the Semester on national reforms and investment in education and training. Finally teacher unions are going to discuss further actions to contribute to the European Semester in education and training at national and European level.
  • In line with the ETUCE Complementary Strategy Plan on the EI Global Response to commercialisations and privatisation in/of education, ETUCE member organisations are urging governments to adequately support financially public education systems, and to ensure the involvement of education social partners in the development of education policies and national reform agenda in the framework of the European Semester process
  • ETUCE Action Plan on the European Semester is the advocacy strategy of ETUCE to influence the European Semester. It coordinates activities with member organisations on the involvement of social partners in the European Semester at national and European level.
  • In line with the Action and Campaign Framework Unite for Quality Education and national priorities on education based on ETUCE 10 Key Messages on 'What is needed to improve Quality of Education in Europe?' member organisations have tried to influence the Country Specific Recommendations of the European Semester, 2013-2014.
More information
ETUC webpage on the economic governance, with updates on the coordination on the European Semester between ETUC and its affiliates and European Trade Union Federations.

 

 

 

 

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