EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

Back to EUR-Lex homepage

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Enhanced EU cooperation in vocational education and training



Declaration of the European Ministers of Vocational Education and Training, and the European Commission on enhanced European cooperation in vocational education and training


  • It establishes the priorities of the Copenhagen process on enhanced European cooperation in vocational education and training (VET).
  • This process aims to improve the performance, quality and attractiveness of VET in Europe. It seeks to encourage the use of the various vocational training opportunities within the lifelong learning* (LLL) context and with the help of the LLL tools.


The Copenhagen process forms an integral part of the ‘Education and training’ (ET 2020) strategic set of rules and seeks to contribute to achieving the education-related targets of the Europe 2020 strategy.

The process consists of:

  • a political dimension aiming to establish common European objectives and reform national VET systems;
  • the development of common European frameworks and tools that increase the transparency and quality of competences and qualifications and facilitate mobility;
  • cooperation to foster mutual learning at European level and to involve all relevant stakeholders at national level.


The priorities set by the Copenhagen Declaration provide the basis for voluntary cooperation in VET. With the target of 2010, they aimed at:

  • reinforcing the European dimension in VET;
  • increasing information, guidance, counselling and transparency of VET;
  • developing tools for the mutual recognition and validation of competences and qualifications;
  • improving quality assurance in VET.


A succession of communiqués has set out the EU’s success in achieving these goals as well as the steps to improve VET cooperation further.

Maastricht Communiqué 2004 confirmed the success of the Copenhagen process in raising the visibility and profile of VET at the European level. It also developed the priorities set by the Copenhagen Declaration and set out specific priorities for national-level work on VET, including:

  • increasing public/private investment in VET;
  • developing VET systems to cater for the needs of disadvantaged people and groups;
  • developing learning-conducive environments both in educational institutions and in the workplace;
  • promoting VET teachers’ and trainers’ continuous competence development.

Helsinki Communiqué 2006 evaluated the Copenhagen process and reviewed its priorities and strategies. It noted a number of achievements, including:

Bordeaux Communiqué 2008 reviewed the priorities and strategies of the Copenhagen process in light of a future education and training programme post-2010. It found that the process has proved to be effective in promoting the image of VET while maintaining the diversity of national VET systems. However, it called for new impetus, in particular regarding:

  • the implementation of VET tools and schemes to promote cooperation at the European and national levels;
  • the creation of better links between VET and the labour market;
  • theconsolidation of European cooperation arrangements.

Bruges Communiqué 2010 set out long-term strategic objectives for European cooperation in VET for the period 2011-2020, together with the 22 short-term deliverables for the period 2011-2014, which provide concrete actions at national level for achieving these objectives. These objectives, whilst still based on the principles of the Copenhagen process, drew from past achievements but also aimed to respond to current and future challenges.

Its conclusions found that the Copenhagen process had:

  • significantly helped raise awareness of VET at the European and national levels, in particular through the implementation of the common European VET tools, principles and guidelines;
  • triggered profound reforms which have led to a shift towards a learning outcomes approach.

It established that for VET to respond to current and future challenges, European education and training systems must, amongst other things:

  • be flexible and of high quality;
  • empower people to adapt to and manage change by enabling them to acquire key competences;
  • facilitate and encourage VET learners’ and teachers’ transnational mobility.

Riga Conclusions set out a list of new deliverables for the period 2015-2020 based on a review of the results of the deliverables for the period 2011-2014.

The review found that those deliverables had helped both European Union and candidate countries focus and implement reform. 5 priority areas were established for 2015-2020:

  • promote work-based learning in all its forms;
  • further develop quality assurance mechanisms in VET in line with the European quality assurance in VET recommendation;
  • enhance access to VET and qualifications for all through more flexible and permeable systems;
  • further strengthen key competences in VET curricula and provide more effective opportunities to acquire or develop those skills through initial VET and continuing VET;
  • introduce systematic approaches to, and opportunities for, initial and continuous professional development of VET teachers, trainers and mentors in both school- and work-based settings.



Lifelong learning: allows people, at any stage of their life, to take part in stimulating learning experiences


Declaration of the European Ministers of Vocational Education and Training, and the European Commission, convened in Copenhagen on 29 and 30 November 2002, on enhanced European cooperation in vocational education and training — ‘The Copenhagen Declaration’ (Not published in the Official Journal)

last update 11.10.2016