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European Year of Lifelong Learning (1996)


To make the European public aware of the importance of lifelong learning, to foster better cooperation between education and training structures and the business community, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, to help to establish a European area of education and training through the academic and vocational recognition of qualifications within the European Union, and to stress the contribution made by education and training to the equality of opportunities.


European Parliament and Council Decision n° 95/2493/EC of 23 October 1995 establishing 1996 as the European Year of Lifelong Learning.


1996 is proclaimed the "European Year of Lifelong Learning". During the year, measures to provide information on, create awareness of and promote lifelong learning will be undertaken.

The themes for the European Year will be as follows:

  • the importance of a high-quality general education;
  • promotion of vocational training leading to qualifications for all young people;
  • motivation of individuals to acquire education and training;
  • promotion of better cooperation between education and training institutions and the economic world;
  • raising the awareness of the social partners and parents;
  • development of the European dimension of initial and continuing education and training.

Measures will include general and theme-based events, the preparation and dissemination of communication products, and studies and surveys.

The Commission is responsible for implementing the Decision. It is to be assisted by an ad hoc committee of an advisory nature composed of two representatives from each Member State and chaired by a representative of the Commission.

Each Member State is designating an appropriate body or bodies responsible for the selection, coordination and implementation nationally of the measures provided for in the Decision. Applications for financial support are to be submitted to the Commission by the Member States concerned.

A budget of ECU 8 million has been set.

4) deadline for implementation of the legislation in the member states

5) date of entry into force (if different from the above)


6) references

Official Journal L 256, 26.10.1995.

7) follow-up work

Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 15 September 1999 on the implementation, results and overall assessment of the European Year of Lifelong Learning (1996), submitted in accordance with Article 8 of European Parliament and Council Decision No 2493/95/EC [COM (99) 447 final - not published in the Official Journal].

Lifelong learning has now become central to policy debate throughout the European Union. It is a cornerstone of the reform of the structural funds and the Community's employment policy.

The European Year set out to promote lifelong learning by alerting the general public to the need and desirability of continuing to learn and stimulating debate on how the delivery systems can cater for new learning needs.

The 1996 measures were implemented on a decentralised basis, in close partnership with the bodies designated by the participating countries.

Over 2 000 projects were submitted to the national agencies. Some 550 projects, representing approximately 5 000 events, were organised, to a total value of 34 million Ecus (publications, conferences, seminars, etc.).

The Year had a major political impact at European level by putting lifelong learning centre-stage and by involving new players in a field which until then had been reserved for specialists. Besides, the authorities in several participating countries pointed out that the European Year had opened up new opportunities for closer cooperation between government departments or between different levels of government.

Finally, the simultaneous implementation of the programme throughout the European Economic Area gave it added weight.

The EU's contribution to the global debate on lifelong learning was marked by a broad concept embracing a "cradle to grave" approach which does not subordinate learning to economic imperatives and gives full place to such issues as personal growth, participation in the democratic decision-making process, recreational learning and active ageing.

8) commission implementing measures