To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what were the outcomes of the Council of EC Education Ministers held on 20 November. 
The Council of Education Ministers, at which my noble Friend the Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment and my hon. Friend the Minister for Education and Industry, Scottish Office represented the UK, made a declaration on respect for diversity and the fight against racism and xenophobia. The Council agreed in principle the texts of a resolution on the early learning of the languages of the European Union; of conclusions on the evaluation of the quality of school education; and, subject to a UK Parliamentary scrutiny reservation, of a common position on a draft recommendation on European co-operation in higher education quality assurance. The Council gave a second reading to a European Commission proposal to increase the budget of the SOCRATES education programme. In this it restated its view that the programme budget should be increased from 850 million ecu1 to 875 million ecu2 over five years.The Council heard European Commission presentations on the communication "Towards a Europe of Knowledge" and the EURYDICE publication "Key Data on Education in the European Union 1997".After the Council, European Union Education Ministers held a meeting with Education Ministers of the associated countries of Central and Eastern Europe to discuss matters of mutual interest.The Council minutes will be placed in the Library as soon as they became available.
- 1£580 million at £1 = 0.6.825 ecu.
- 2£597 million at £1 = 0.6.825 ecu.