On 28 September, the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) has published an “Opinion on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: implementation of 2016 priorities”. In this document, it suggests to the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) to include to its latest motion for a European Parliament resolution on the European Semester further aspects concerning education and training.

The Opinion points out at the importance of various aspects of the European Semester when it comes to education and training reforms, when referring to the first and second priority for the European Semester 2016. These priorities, namely ‘relaunching investment’ and ‘pursuing structural reforms to modernise economies’, were mentioned in the Annual Growth Survey 2016. The Opinion strongly focuses on the role of education to respond to needs of the labour market, considering education as a key element for tackling high unemployment. It also welcomes the recent initiatives of the European Commission, such as the New Skills Agenda and the Youth Guarantee.

However, the Opinion also calls for changes in the labour market structures in order to promote decent workplaces and quality work based trainings. Moreover, it stresses the importance of education facing growing societal demands, in building active, integrated, and critical citizens. With regards to investment in education, the Opinion calls for enhanced funding. To ensure quality education, the use of public investment as well as “all available European funding instruments”, especially the Structural Funds (ERDF, ESF) and European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), are proposed. The Opinion reminds to use the Horizon2020 scheme for funding research and science.

The Opinion remarkably values the role of social dialogue and strongly stresses the need to involve social partners in education and training reforms within the European Semester framework, recalling that “education and training reforms have proved successful where social partners have been involved within the European Semester consultations”.

ETUCE acknowledges the importance of the European Semester on education funding and reforms, and it is currently engaged in strengthening education trade unions’ involvement in the European Semester on education and training, through a series of training seminars across Europe. The recognition of the role of the social partners in designing and implementing education and training reforms at national level is a stepping stone by the European Parliament.

The Opinion was adopted in the CULT meeting on 26 September 2016. Access the document here.

To read ETUCE activities on the European Semester, click here.