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EU Education Council (14 February 2011)

Volume 524: debated on Wednesday 9 March 2011

Andy Lebrecht, Deputy Permanent Representative, represented the UK at the Education Council, on behalf of the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Ministers adopted conclusions on the role and contribution of education and training to the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy. These conclusions are consistent with the European Council conclusions agreed by the Prime Minister in June and we were therefore able to support them.

There was also a policy debate between delegations on the contribution of education and training to the European semester and annual growth survey. Member states supported the overall annual growth survey messages but there was wide agreement that national targets in member states’ national reform programmes (as part of the Europe 2020 strategy) should be realistic as well as ambitious.

Member states outlined their national reform programmes, with basic skills, adult education, the professionalism of teachers, and prevention of early school leaving given as key areas for action. Mobility issues were also raised, in particular by Germany, France and Finland. Germany also stated that, in their view, education should not be subject to the same Europe 2020 monitoring as fiscal areas and they specifically opposed country-specific recommendations in education.

The UK intervention supported the annual growth survey and recognised the importance of education to jobs and growth, explaining the focus of reforms in the UK following the education White Paper. On national targets, the UK was clear that we were not mirroring the EU targets. Instead we were using nationally owned indicators to measure and drive change. These indicators would enable us to measure progress against the headline targets.