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Towards a Europe of knowledge


To set out the guidelines for future Community action in the areas of education, training and youth for the period 2000-2006 for the purposes of building a Europe of knowledge.


Commission Communication of 12 November 1997: Towards a Europe of knowledge


The guidelines for future Community action on education, training and youth-related matters are based on two major concerns:

  • to make "knowledge-based policies" (innovation, research, education, training) one of the four fundamental pillars of the EU's internal policies, as put forward in the Agenda 2000;
  • to raise the level of knowledge and skills of all Europe's citizens in order to promote employment.

There is strong demand for the continuation of the action started (Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, Youth for Europe). The new Community actions must capitalise on what has already been achieved, placing the focus on a restricted number of objectives.

The main thrust is to gradually build up an open and dynamic European education area, concentrating on three additional dimensions: giving citizens the essential means of constantly updating their knowledge both in order to enhance employability, by acquiring skills attuned to developments in the nature and organisation of work, and also in order to serve as a framework for the process of consolidating European citizenship. The scale of these challenges presupposes a higher degree of integration of the areas of education, training and youth-related policies.

The new generation of actions must therefore focus henceforth on a restricted number of objectives:

  • opening up access for European citizens to the full range of Europe's education resources;
  • innovation in these resources;
  • broad dissemination of good practice in education.

Six types of action are proposed as part of this effort to focus action:

  • action for physical mobility, including the extension of the arrangements for mutual recognition;
  • action to promote virtual mobility, promoting universal access to the new education tools by encouraging links in communication and information networks, and encouraging the production and dissemination of European multimedia goods and services which can be used in education and training;
  • action to build up cooperation networks at the European level with a view to exchanging experience and good practice;
  • action to promote language skills and understanding of different cultures;
  • action to develop innovation through pilot projects based on transnational partnerships;
  • action designed to achieve continuing improvement of the Community sources of reference on the systems and policies relating to education, training and youth in the Member States (key figures, data bases, etc.).

All these activities must be prepared and implemented at transnational level.

The central theme of the new generation of actions is based on establishing a framework of shared responsibility between the Community, the Member States and the other players involved: the partners in education, social, economic, local, regional and civil life. This is the precondition for establishing a Europe of knowledge.

This policy is also part of a move to strengthen international cooperation. The programmes are already open to the countries of the EEA and are opening up gradually to the applicant countries; exchanges with the Mediterranean countries and the other industrialised countries should also be developed.

This policy will be implemented using legal instruments based on Articles 126 and 127 of the Treaty. Common provisions will underpin the resolve for integration:

  • a common framework of action, coordination and follow-up will set out the objectives and types of measures;
  • three decisions, including common articles to strengthen consistency and underpin the resolve to achieve integration will define the specific framework of action on education, training and youth-related matters.

The Commission intends to give greater visibility to Community action and to the Union's objectives. A partnership-based approach to achieve better consultation with a range of players should make it possible to better monitor the progress of Community action.

The Commission is eager to promote complementarity and consistency between the various policies affecting human resources. It undertakes to streamline management and bring it closer to the target publics, and also to facilitate access to Community aid.

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

Not applicable

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

6) references

Commission Communication: COM(97) 563 finalNot published in the Official Journal

7) follow-up work

Presentation of the legal instruments based on Articles 126 and 127 of the Treaty - draft decisions - by the Commission for implementation of the policy in the areas of education, training and youth in May 1998; decisions of the Council and the European Parliament (co-decision) expected Spring 1999.

8) commission implementation measures

Implementation of the decisions as of 1 January 2000 by the Commission and its Member State partners for the period 1 January 2000 - 31 December 2006.