The members of the ETUCE Committee elected at the ETUCE Conference in December 2016 in Belgrade convened for their first meeting in Brussels on 3-4 April 2017. The main topic concerned the role and structure of ETUCE as the European Region within Educational International and its link to the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), with a specific focus on the role of the ETUCE Committee and its members, who each represent a country and in some cases several unions.

On 31 March 2017, higher education and research experts of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education (ESSDE) met in Brussels at the occasion of the annual Working Group Meeting focusing on Higher Education and Research. During this meeting, representatives from member organisations of ETUCE and EFEE were brought together to discuss current shortcomings but also examples of best practice in the fostering of mobility and gender equality in Higher Education. Social partners were joined by European Commission representatives who provided European-wide data and gave insight into European Commission’s initiatives aiming at addressing the gender gap and enabling geographical and employment mobility. The Working Group Meeting fruitfully discussed on both of these topics.

Concerned about the negative impacts of the education reform that Polish authorities are intending to introduce, ZNP one of ETUCE’s member organisations in Poland, is organising a general strike for safeguarding students’ right to quality education today, on 31 March 2017.

Coinciding with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (21 March), the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) along with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Council of Europe’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) have launched a joint statement stressing the paramount importance of Education in combatting hate crime.

On 21 March, ETUCE sent its Statement on Copyright in the Digital Single Market to the European Parliament expressing its views on the proposed European Commission Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. The proposal aims at modernising EU copyright rules in order to adapt them to the new digital technologies and contains important exceptions from copyright protection for digital materials used in education, research and cultural heritage.

In March 2017, the European Parliament Committee for Education and Culture published a study on teaching common values in Europe. The study examines the policy of teaching the common values of democracy and tolerance in secondary schools and how this policy is implemented in practice. In-depth case studies from 12 EU countries are provided. The main findings show that teaching common values is lacking attention and systematic implementation in comparison to other subjects. The report states that separating students based on their learning capacities reduces the possibilities to learn about social and cultural differences.