On 11-12 April 2016, the members of the ETUCE Committee assembled in Brussels for their spring meeting. The main topic on the agenda was the ETUCE Conference which is to be held in December 2016 in Belgrade, Serbia.

The President, Christine Blower, opened the meeting and referring to the recent devastating events in Brussels and in Europe, condemned the extremist attacks in Europe and emphasised how crucial education and education staff in promoting democratic citizenship and in combating extremist and radical tendencies.

In the name of ETUCE, she paid tribute to Yanka Takeva, President of SEB and Committee member for the Bulgarian country seat, who received the highest awarding medal ‘Stara Planina First Grade’ for her significant contribution to the development of education and civil society in Bulgaria and as an active leader of the Bulgarian union of teachers.

In light of the preparation of the ETUCE Conference, the delegates discussed the conference theme, settling on: Empowering Education Trade Unions: the Key to Promoting Quality Education. Next to the resolution on this theme, the delegates approved to submit to the ETUCE Conference the resolution recommended by the Standing Committee for Equality on Reinforcing Equality in Education as well as the policy paper on the 21st Century Teaching Profession and the Use of Information and Communication Technology. The ETUCE Special Conference in 2014 had commissioned a ETUCE taskforce of experts to compile the paper. The policy provides a clear vision and analysis of the 21st century teaching profession and the use of ICT, reflecting ETUCE’s and member organisations’ work on challenges and opportunities in this field and entails recommendations for European education trade unions at European, national and education institutional level.

A lively exchange between the delegates evolved on the issues of integrating refugees and radicalisation, inspired by the presentations from the President on NUT’s activities and good practices in this field, from Branimir Strukelj, ETUCE Vice-President, on the political environment in which ESTUS is addressing the issue in Slovenia and on the guidance developed by OAJ for Finnish teachers regarding migration and integration. As a result, the ETUCE Committee asked the ETUCE Secretariat to draft a Committee resolution on the issue for the ETUCE Conference in December.

Further topics discussed at the meeting concerned the results of the ETUCE survey on social dialogue and collegial governance in higher education and research, the overview on the state of funding in education, teachers’ working conditions, social dialogue and trade union rights in Europe, as well as ETUCE’s views on the New Skills Agenda for Europe of the European Commission. The ETUCE Secretariat also informed the delegates about the latest developments in the European Sectoral Social Dialogue and in the solidarity support for member organisations, including a detailed report on the ETUCE mission to Turkey that took place earlier this year.

The ETUCE President also informed the ETUCE Committee members that the European Director, Martin Rømer, is retiring at the end of 2016 and announced the process of appointment for the position of European Director.

The next ETUCE Committee takes place on 10-11 October 2016.