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Education and Training 2020

ET 2020 – the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training up to 2020

A high level of education and training and a well-educated population are essential for the future of Europe and its competitiveness.  Because of the principle of subsidiarity, the European Union has no regulatory competence in the field of education. Although the Member States design their education systems themselves, they work closely together at EU level. The major added value of EU cooperation on education lies in developing common political goals and in exchanging experiences when implementing educational policy initiatives. Both aspects provide impetus for national developments and the Member States are supported by the European Commission in these areas.

In 2009, the Commission laid down the aims and priorities of this cooperation in the Strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training  (ET 2020). A mid-term review of ET 2020 was carried out in November 2015, setting new priorities up to 2020.

Four strategic objectives are at the heart of cooperation within the framework of ET 2020:

  • Make lifelong learning and mobility a reality;
  • Improve the quality and efficiency of education and training;
  • Promote equity, social cohesion and active citizenship;
  • Enhance creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship.

A number of European benchmarks were set in support of these objectives. These benchmarks are not individual national targets; rather, they are European averages. Each Member State should contribute as much as they can on the basis of national priorities to achieving these targets:

  • At least 95% of children (between the ages of 4 and compulsory school age) should participate in early childhood education;
  • Fewer than 15% of 15-year-olds should be under-skilled in reading, mathematics and science;
  • The rate of early leavers from education and training aged 18-24 should be below 10%;
  • At least 40% of people aged 30-34 should have completed some form of higher education;
  • At least 15% of adults should participate in learning;
  • At least 20% of higher education graduates and 6% of 18-34 year-olds with an initial vocational qualification should have spent some time studying or training abroad;
  • The share of employed graduates (aged 20-34 with at least upper secondary education attainment and having left education 1-3 years ago) should be at least 82%.

ET 2020 aims at flexible cooperation, which should take place primarily through the exchange of ideas between experts in line with jointly defined priorities, i.e. in the form of working groups, peer learning activities and peer reviews.

Central to this process are the ET 2020 Working Groups composed of experts nominated by the EU Member States and key stakeholders. The ET 2020 Working Groups set up for the period 2018-2020 focus on the following themes:

  • Schools;
  • Higher education;
  • Vocational education and training;
  • Adult learning;
  • Digital education;
  • Common values and inclusive education;
  • Early childhood education and care.

The annual Education and Training Monitor reports on Member States' progress in achieving the ET 2020 objectives and benchmarks. This analysis feeds into the evaluation of broader socio-economic progress by Member States within the framework of the European Semester.