Addressing the educational needs of each EU citizens is one of the few areas where Brussels has had little impact, according to the European Commissioner for Education, Tibor Navracsics, who said he believes that much more can be done.

“Education should equip citizens, young and old, with the skills necessary to lead a rewarding life and build communities. Although education is the responsibility of the Member States, cooperation at the EU level needs to be strengthened,” said Navracsics, during the opening of the first ever European education summit in Brussels.

The one-day meeting is a follow-up to the November 2017 Göteborg’s Social Summit where the Commission “illustrated the idea of creating a European educational zone by 2025”. The summit was followed a month later when EU heads of state expressed their willingness “to do more on education”.

According to the Education Summit’s programme, scientists, educators, stakeholders from all EU member states will hold more than 20 seminars to cover a range of issues.

The panels will discuss methods of engaging disadvantaged pupils, how to best equip teachers and boost learning skills through sport, as well as the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths in education and the role children play in helping to transform societies.

EU’s next steps

Navracsics dubbed the summit “an important opportunity to meet and discuss the future of education in Europe” both for EU education ministers and for education professionals and representatives from all over Europe,

The second Summit is expected to take place in autumn 2019, added Commissioner Navracsics.

“We need to fully exploit the potential of education to build resilient societies, develop a sense of belonging and allow people to experience a Europeans identity in all its diversity. To contribute to this goal we want to encourage language learning, ensure the recognition of diplomas anywhere in the Union, and ensure that European universities work together as much as possible so that studying in another EU country becomes even easier,” said Navracsics.

Thursday’s gathering gave the Commission an opportunity to put forward its Digital Education Action Plan that is designed to ensure that young people are not only aware of, but also competent with digital platforms – which was listed as one of the eight Key Competences that Europeans should learn throughout life.

The Commission also recommended promoting the bloc’s common values through courses geared towards learning about the history of the EU and of Europe. “This will encourage pupils to embrace our common values, heritage, and identity and better understand our shared roots,” according toNavracsics.

In the spring, the Commission plans to discuss early childhood education, language learning so that Europeans speak two languages in addition to their mother tongue and the mutual recognition of university diplomas to enable more mobility within EU member states.