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Lifelong learning: European Qualifications


Establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning – Recommendation



It creates a common scheme, known as the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), to help EU countries and their educational institutions, employers and individuals compare qualifications across the EU’s education and training systems. This tool is essential for developing a European employment market.


  • By making competences and qualifications more transparent, the EQF is an instrument for the promotion of Erasmus+. By means of a standardised dossier, the EQF also complements the European Employment Services (EURES) and the Europass initiative, both of which help Europeans find work or training anywhere in Europe
  • The EQF, which covers both higher education (university and similar establishments) and vocational training, will help increase the mobility of workers and students by allowing for their qualifications to be recognised outside their own country.
  • The EQF is a tool based on learning outcome rather than on the duration of the studies. The main reference level descriptors are:
    • skills (the ability to apply knowledge to complete tasks and solve problems),
    • competences (the ability to use knowledge or skills in work or study situations) and
    • knowledge.
  • The core of the EQF consists of 8 reference levels describing what a learner knows, understands and is able to do. For example, level 1 (basic general knowledge), would apply to someone with no training or education, while level 8 (most advanced knowledge) would apply to someone with a Doctorate degree.
  • The EQF is not supposed to replace national qualifications frameworks (NQFs), but rather to facilitate cooperation between them. An EQF National Coordination Point is set up in each country that participates in the EQF, which coordinates implementation at the national level and provides information on how NQFs relate to the EQF.


The 1999 Bologna Declaration promoted mobility and transparency in education in the EU. Meanwhile, the Bologna Process has brought the EU closer to a comparable, compatible and coherent system for higher education, which sparked the need for similar action that covers vocational training.


Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning (OJ C 111, 6.5.2008, pp. 1–7)

last update 12.01.2016