From 26 to 27 November 2014, more than 200 teacher union representatives from all over Europe convene in Vienna for ETUCE's first mid-term conference under the new structure. The Future of the Teaching Profession, which is the Leitmotif of the event and of the main conference resolution, promises interesting discussions. The debate is prompted and inspired by several honoured guest speakers, among them, Mr. Xavier Prats-Monné, Director General, DG EAC, Prof. Emeritus John MacBeath from Cambridge University, Dr. Riina Vuorikari, from the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission and Prof. Susan Lee Robertson from Bristol University.

Despite the wide consensus on the fact that quality education is a key element to exit the economic and social crisis, to reduce social inequalities, to increase social well-being and democratic participation in society, education systems in many European countries are deteriorating. ETUCE looked in-depth into the reality of five countries: Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ireland, which have experienced very big cut backs in education. The ETUCE documentary 'When Europe forgot its homework: education in crisis' shows that cuts and downturns in the education systems have affected everyday people  – teachers, students, parents, and societies – and made the prospects and opportunities for young people more unclear, jeopardizing the future of the younger generations. It also shows how teacher trade unions have reacted to the economic crisis, delivering alternative answers to face the effects of austerity.

ETUCE is together with EPSU, AK and ÖGB organising a training seminar on trade policy on the 15-16 January in Vienna. The focus of the training will be on the current trade negotiations, in particular TTIP, CETA and TiSA and the EU's trade policy. We will discuss how to challenge the liberalisation of education and other public services and better understand the problems of trade agreements for public services.

A new study by the European Parliament on primary teacher training in Europe is now available on-line. The study assesses the state of initial teacher training, early career support and continuous professional development in Europe from the perspective of teachers and teacher educations in primary schools in Europe. The European Parliament's investigation takes into account the results of the ETUCE Mini-survey on the impact of the economic crisis on teacher education in the European Union (2012) and the EI/ETUCE Study on stress: the causes of stress for teachers, its effects, and suggested approaches to reduce it (2001).

On Wednesday 6 November all Belgian teachers and educators affiliated to ETUCE member organisations ACOD-Onderwijs, Centrale Générale des Services Publics Enseignement, FGTB-CGSP; ACV-Openbare Diensten/CSC-Services publics, ACV-OD/ CSC-SP; Christelijke Onderwijscentrale, COC; Confédération des Syndicats Chrétiens de l'Enseignement, CSC-Enseignement; Syndicat Libre de la Fonction Publique-Vrij Syndicaat; together with all the other sectors and professions, demonstrated in Brussels to defend their working conditions, welfare state and purchasing power against austerity and the Belgian government's attacks.

The European Commission's autumn economic forecast was published on 4 November 2014. They project a very weak economic growth for the rest of the year and foresee a gradual strengthening of the economic activity in 2015. Indeed, the EU's recovery still lags behind. GDP growth in the EU is set to be very modest, while in the euro area it will almost stagnate. This is in contradiction with the expectations raised by the previous economic forecast in spring 2014, which projected a broad and self-sustaining economic recovery across Europe.