Taking stock of progress towards the European education area

Briefing 11-01-2023

The European education area (EEA) is about promoting cooperation among European Union (EU) Member States to build more resilient and inclusive national education and training systems. The aim is also to improve access to quality education and lifelong learning for all across the EU. EU leaders first endorsed the vision for a European education area at the Gothenburg Social Summit in 2017. Following the first initiatives, the overall approach to forming the EEA by 2025 was outlined in a 2020 European Commission communication and two 2021 Council of the EU resolutions. On 18 November 2022, the Commission adopted its progress report on the achievement of the EEA by 2025. The report highlights the first results of the implementation of actions and reforms and points to some positive trends in education, such as the decreasing number of early school leavers and the rising tertiary educational attainment rate. It is estimated that overall EU spending on education and skills will triple between 2021 and 2027 compared to the previous budget period. However, warning signs suggest that more far-reaching, longer-term, efforts are needed to address inequalities in and improve the quality of education and training. A mid-term review process informed by the Commission's 2022 progress report will take place in 2023. In this context, an event with the European Parliament has also been scheduled. The Commission is expected to publish a comprehensive report on the achievement of the EEA in 2025. While in its November 2021 resolution, Parliament expressed its belief that the EEA could and should play a unique role in improving access to and quality of education, it also underlined the need for a more holistic approach and suggested clear priorities and achievable targets for the actions. In its May 2022 resolution, Parliament welcomed the Commission proposals to develop a European approach to micro-credentials, individual learning accounts and learning for environmental sustainability as a step towards the EEA. These initiatives are considered an opportunity to make the possible benefits of the EEA more visible to European citizens.