On 30 September, the European Commission presented its vision for the creation of a European Education Area by 2025 and announced concrete measures to achieve it. This communication places education at the heart of the European Union's economic and social development.

The Commission intends to develop the European Education Area on the basis of 6 dimensions:

Quality

In addition to improved teaching of basic knowledge and transversal skills, mobility and cross-border cooperation is highlighted as a motor for improving the quality of education. Existing obstacles to this must be removed. At the same time, the report calls for mobility to be made more sustainable in future and to be able to tackle digital challenges.

Inclusion and gender equality

In the future Erasmus+ programme, inclusion, equality and diversity will play a prominent role, for example through new, more flexible mobility formats and support measures. An increasingly diverse student landscape and the demand for lifelong learning will be met by new teaching formats such as micro-credentials. To this end, the Commission is planning a proposal for Council Recommendations in 2021. In higher education, the main aim is to increase the number of women in management positions.

Green and digital transition

The transition to an environmentally sound, sustainable and climate-neutral economy in Europe can only succeed with the development of necessary skills and awareness raising through education. At the end of 2020, the Commission will launch a coalition "Education for Climate" to promote innovative projects and raise awareness in educational institutions. In 2021, the Commission will present Council recommendations on sustainability in education and develop a European Competence Framework for environmental skills and competences. The Action Plan for Digital Education details the measures to prepare for the digital transformation (more). The EU education programme Erasmus+ will become more digital and greener. Virtual mobility is to complement physical mobility, environment and digital are to be treated as priorities in the cooperation projects and a sustainable implementation of the projects as well as climate-friendly physical mobility is to be promoted.

Teachers

Teachers are at the centre of a sustainable education system. The profession should be upgraded. In this context, the Commission also mentions the need to make mobility an integral part of teacher education and training. Under the new Erasmus+ programme, the Commission plans to develop, from 2021 onwards, 25 "Erasmus Teacher Academies", which will network teacher training institutions and their associations to exchange good practice in initial and in-service training.

Higher Education

Universities are described as central players in the knowledge quadrangle: education, research, innovation and society. The focus is on developing a policy framework that allows unhindered mobility and close cross-border cooperation between universities (as in the European Universities Initiative), and that promotes inclusion, digitalisation, sustainability and new teaching formats such as micro-credentials. The Commission is currently working on a transformation agenda for universities, which it will present in 2021. A public consultation will be published later this year. Other measures include support for the development of higher education curricula in the field of technology and ICT, the development of a "European degree" and a quality assurance system for new modular study programmes and degrees, and a feasibility study on a European statute for alliances of higher education institutions in Europe, such as the European Universities. Mobility will be further developed through the European student card, the Erasmus+ app and a further development of the automatic mutual recognition of credits.

Geopolitical dimension

Education is recognised in this document as an important instrument of European foreign policy, connecting people and promoting a positive image of Europe in the world. Priority regions for the EU are Africa, the Western Balkans and the EU's neighbourhood region. The Western Balkan countries are to be associated with the European Education Area and the Erasmus+ programme by 2025 at the latest. Cooperation with strategic partners such as the USA, China and Japan will also be developed. The new Erasmus+ programme will have a strengthened international dimension, including digital exchanges with international partners and work with alumni in partner countries.

Together with the Member States, the European Commission wants to set new targets for 2030 to achieve the European Education Area. For higher education, it is proposed to increase the proportion of 30-34 year olds with a university degree to at least 50%.