Welcoming the new members to the ETUCE Committee, Mr. Christian Chevalier, country seat France; Mr. Edgars Grigorjevs, country seat Latvia; Mr. Andy Wood, country seat UK; MS Elis Randma, country seat Estonia; MS Heleni Zografaki, country seat Greece, Mr. Ramazon Odinaev, country seat Tajikistan, Mr. Apostolos Apostolides, country seat Cyprus and Mr. Terje Skyvulstad, countryseat Norway the ETUCE President opened the meeting.

She then invited the Committee to stand for a minute of silence in memory of Kounka Damianova, the former chair of the ETUCE Standing Committee for Equality and member of the Bulgarian Teacher Union, SEB, who had died unexpectedly and all too sudden at the age of 66 in August this year.

Moving on to the points of debate on the agenda, the main discussion topic concerned ETUCE member organisations’ actions regarding the migration and refugee crisis in Europe which was initiated with presentations from both Vice-Presidents Paula Engwall from Lärarförbundet Sweden and Andreas Keller, GEW Germany. Explaining the actual situation in their countries and exchanging their different points of view, the Committee settled to commit around actions brought forward by the Vice-Presidents of a rights-based approach on education by lobbying EU and national governments to respect the right to quality education and ensure that teachers obtain the appropriate support to be a key to successful integration, encouraging validation processes to support teachers who are among the refugees, developing ETUCE’s policies on integration in education and exchanging experiences on integration in education among teacher unions in Europe.

Further issues that ranked high in the discussion concerned ways to defend and enhance the role and capacity of teacher unions as professional associations, the ETUCE complementary strategy plan on the I privatization campaign which was followed by an update and debate on the developments regarding TTIP, TiSA and other trade agreements and was rounded off by a debate on the Education and Training Policy regarding the ESF funds on education and training priorities, the ETCUE Report on Juncker’s investment Plan on education and training and the role of the European Investment Bank in delivering education and training projects through the European Fund for Strategic Investment.

Regarding the preparations for the ETUCE Conference and side-events, the dates of 5 to 8 December 2016 were confirmed, leaving the debate on the conference theme as well as a fine-tuned meeting schedule for the next Committee meeting. In this respect, the Status of Women confirmed their support for a side-event focusing on the capacity-building of women and young union leaders, which had been suggested by the Equality Working Group. Moreover, the Status of Women expressed its interest in raising the quota of women members to the ETUCE Committee to at least 25. A more detailed discussion regarding any constitutional changes that might be necessary to ensure the good functioning of the ETUCE decision-making bodies within the new European structure can also take place in the frame of the upcoming Committee meeting in 2016.