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Lifelong learning — key competences



Recommendation 2006/962/EC on key competences for lifelong learning


It urges EU governments to make teaching and learning of key competences part of their lifelong learning strategies. The recommendation identifies 8 key competences that are fundamental for each individual in a knowledge-based society.


  • The 8 key competences are the following:
  • 1.

    Communicating in a mother tongue: ability to express and interpret concepts, thoughts, feelings, facts and opinions both orally and in writing.

  • 2.

    Communicating in a foreign language: as above, but includes mediation skills (i.e. summarising, paraphrasing, interpreting or translating) and intercultural understanding.

  • 3.

    Mathematical, scientific and technological competence:sound mastery of numeracy, an understanding of the natural world and an ability to apply knowledge and technology to perceived human needs (such as medicine, transport or communication).

  • 4.

    Digital competence: confident and critical usage of information and communications technology for work, leisure and communication.

  • 5.

    Learning to learn: ability to effectively manage one’s own learning, either individually or in groups.

  • 6.

    Social and civic competences: ability to participate effectively and constructively in one’s social and working life and engage in active and democratic participation, especially in increasingly diverse societies.

  • 7.

    Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship: ability to turn ideas into action through creativity, innovation and risk taking as well as ability to plan and manage projects.

  • 8.

    Cultural awareness and expression: ability to appreciate the creative importance of ideas, experiences and emotions in a range of media such as music, literature and visual and performing arts.

  • The European Commission:
    • contributes to national efforts to develop education and training systems;
    • uses the 8 key competences to encourage peer learning and exchange of good practices;
    • promotes wider use of the 8 key competences in related EU policies;
    • reports every 2 years on the progress made.
  • In 2009, the EU agreed a new strategic programme for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020) up to 2020. This replaced the earlier ET 2010. It identified the need for lifelong learning and mobility to become a reality with education and vocational training systems being more responsive to change and the wider world.
  • In 2014, Erasmus+ took over the lifelong learning programme and 6 other previously separate education, training and youth programmes.


In an increasingly globalised world, individuals need a wide range of skills to adapt and prosper in the rapidly changing environment. The original lifelong learning programme was designed to offer learning opportunities to people at any stage in their life.

For more information, see:


Recommendation 2006/962/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning (OJ L 394, 30.12.2006, pp. 10-18)

last update 10.10.2016