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Document stages in plenary
Document selected : O-0066/2008

Texts tabled :

O-0066/2008 (B6-0454/2008)

Debates :

PV 25/09/2008 - 13
CRE 25/09/2008 - 13

Votes :

Texts adopted :

Thursday, 25 September 2008 - Brussels OJ edition

13. Progress report on the reform of the European schools (debate)
Video of the speeches

  Erna Hennicot-Schoepges, author . (FR) Madam President, I thank the Commissioner for having agreed to address this question, which was tabled some four months ago. Let me remind you of the responsibilities of the EP Committee on Culture and Education, which, according to Annex VI, Section XV(2) of the Rules of Procedure, include ‘promotion of the system of European schools.’

Those schools give priority to educating the children of Community officials. Those children, classed as category I, make up around 70% of the total, pay no enrolment fees and the Commission contributes about 60% of the funding. Category II children, who make up 5%, and category III, who make up 25%, pay school fees of between EUR 4 000 and 16 000.

The 14 existing schools teach nearly 21 000 pupils, from nursery school to baccalaureate level, out of a total of 100 million in the Union of 27, in 14 official languages with an identical curriculum in all the language sections. Compared to the situation of all the other school children in the European Union, these pupils are, therefore, highly privileged.

In 2006 the Commission promised to reform the system – a laudable undertaking – with a view to establishing a European education system applicable to all types of school that wished to award the European baccalaureate, based on a common curriculum and, where possible, tuition in the mother tongue.

The school in Parma, which is approved by the Board of Governors of the European Schools, will be the first school of its kind to award a European baccalaureate in June 2009. For its part, the Board of Governors of the European Schools undertook an in-depth assessment of the baccalaureate with a view to the ongoing reform.

A study commissioned by the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education, which will be available in October, shows that 94% of those who have passed the baccalaureate go on to higher education in the main European universities and that 62% of them study in a university outside their country of origin. There is, therefore, far greater mobility among these students than among others.

That means we have at our disposal a European educational system that has proved its worth. In its resolutions of 2002 and 2005, the European Parliament advocated a profound reform of the schools system with a view to better governance and greater openness.

Given the successive enlargements of the EU and the increasing number of EU agencies and places of work of its staff, surely it is urgently necessary to reform the model of the European schools system and to begin to transpose it into the general educational systems?

Is it not time to offer European citizens a well-tried, multilingual and flexible model of schooling that responds to their concern for mobility and to draw on the experience gained from the European schools? Of course I know what the reply will be: that is not within our powers. At least we should work on this because surely the perception of the European schools as elitist and the categorisation of pupils within those schools are incompatible with the objectives of a single market, mobility and greater social cohesion?

What progress has been made in the process of reform and greater openness to ensure that the European schools system can move towards a system of European schooling, while maintaining everything that has been achieved to date? What kind of Community funding systems could be envisaged to improve the running of the accredited schools? Parma may show us a way forward.

Lastly, I would like to ask the Commissioner what progress has been made in the field of education for children with special needs? I am well aware that this subject is of interest to a large number of fellow Members and I thank the Commissioner and the President for this opportunity to hold a public debate on it.

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