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European Education Area

EU cooperation in the field of education aims to create a European Education Area in which it is possible to learn, study, teach, train and work across borders. The European Education Area is based on several pillars:

  • On the convergence of national education systems through transparency, the exchange of experience and the definition of common objectives and fields of action at political level,
  • On the comparability of qualifications and the mutual recognition of educational certificates and learning periods as well as joint degrees in the higher education sector, 
  • On the Europe-wide structural cooperation of educational institutions and the transnational mobility of individuals.

EU cooperation in the field of education provides important impetus for the further development and internationalisation of the Austrian education system. The achievements of EU cooperation include the recognition of professional qualifications (Professional Qualifications Directive), the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) and the European Qualification Framework. The ever-closer cooperation of the nation states in the Bologna Process within the framework of the European Higher Education Area, which extends far beyond the EU, has proved to be particularly pioneering. Probably the best-known and most successful instrument of EU education cooperation is the Erasmus+ programme.

In contrast to other policy areas, education policy lies solely within the remit of the EU Member States. According to the treaties, the EU "shall have competence to carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States" (cf. Art. 6 TFEU). The strategic guidelines and points of reference for cooperation are set by the EU Heads of State and Government in the European Council. Of relevance for the field of education and training are the Europa 2020 Strategy, the strategic framework for European cooperation in the area of vocational education and training (Education and Training 2020, often shortened to ET2020) and the conclusions of the European Council of 14 December 2017 on the social dimension, education and culture.

EU cooperation in the area of education and training is strongly characterised by the principle of mutual exchange of experience and the adoption of recommendations and conclusions by which Member States define common challenges, fields of action and objectives. The content is negotiated by the Member States in the EU Education Committee and adopted by the EU Education Ministers in the EU Council for Education, Youth, Culture and Sport

In line with the open method of coordination, national experts deal with questions of general and vocational education and training in EU working groups (ET2020). In these working groups, Austria is actively involved in shaping the process at European level. A major instrument of EU cooperation in the field of education is the development and review of European benchmarks.



Dept. III/1 EU Coordination and Multilateral Affairs: