2nd European Citizens Summit legitimises an alternative Europe
At the 2nd European Citizens Summit on 24 September 2014, EUCIS-LLL and the other members of the EU Civil Society Contact Group (CSCG) sent together a clear message that the EU should change its current model based on economic growth seen as an “obsession” and replace it by a model based on human rights, justice and democracy. “Economic growth cannot be the sole driver of the new Europe that we were promised in the European elections. The hardship endured by many over the last years has prompted the need to discuss an alternative vision of Europe; a new approach that puts people’s interests and well-being first, and not as an afterthought of financial markets”, said Emma Woodford, the spokesperson of the CSCG. EUCIS-LLL co-organised a workshop on Power and Democracy showcasing Jean Rossiaud, sociologist and political specialist on global citizenship, Ragnar Weilandt introducing the European Citizens Initiative on Investing in Education, and Boglarka Bata, a Hungarian activist. The European Citizens Summit is an annual conference organised by the EU Civil Society Contact Group, aiming to envision a Europe for and from citizens.
EUCIS-LLL contributes to Commission Stakeholders’ consultation guidelines
Stakeholders’ consultations – together with impact assessments, evaluations and expertise – are a key tool for transparent, targeted and coherent policy making, when properly taken into account. They help taking decisions that respect principles of proportionality and subsidiarity and that are based on evidence, practices and views of those affected by the policies and involved in their implementation. The guidelines focus on consultations carried out in policy preparation of new policies, programmes, legislative proposals, and delegated and implementing acts, as well as evaluations. While these guidelines are intended for internal Commission use only, stakeholder inputs are an essential element in ensuring the quality of the final product. EUCIS-LLL notably insisted on the need to set up consultations genuinely taking into account qualitative input from stakeholders (less closed questions) and to provide transparent feedback on the way contributions have been handled. Read the whole EUCIS-LLL contribution to the Stakeholders’ Consultation guidelines.

CB4LLP Final Conference, Athens
The final conference of the Capacity Building for Lifelong Learning (CB4LLP) project in September 2014 in Athens, Greece brought together more than 130 participants – decision makers, local and national cultural and educational institutions and companies. It was focused around key policy areas, which are analysed from different perspectives and by multi-level actors: skills shortages, early school leaving and NEETs, innovation in education and local development within macro-regions. As one of the partners in the project, EUCIS-LLL co-organised the workshop on Innovation in education and training. Some of the main conclusions were that innovation, in addition of being a matter of organisational survival, is also very much a social responsibility towards the community and that capacity-building processes can be a lever for more cultural openness to innovation.

/// NEWS FROM MEMBERS AND PARTNERS ///
SOLIDAR conference ‘Achieving validation of learning outcomes – best practices and the way forward’ // Brussels – 14 October 2014
SOLIDAR Foundation, in cooperation with La Ligue de l’enseignement, is organising the conference ’Achieving validation of learning outcomes – best practices and the way forward’ on 14 October 2014 in the European Parliament. Read more information about the conference and the programme. EUCIS-LLL validation task force will meet just before.

EUCEN ‘How to develop University Lifelong Learning programmes: From the needs analysis to the design’ // Barcelona – 6-7 November 2014

The 2014 eucen autumn seminar addresses the process of creation of University Lifelong Learning programmes (ULLL), with a particular focus on the “Needs Analysis” and “Design of ULLL programmes” phases. Guided by facilitators and field experts, participants will challenge their practices with the results of research and construct together innovative solutions. More information about the seminar can be found on their website.

EAEA’s statement on removing the adult education from DG EAC 

The EAEA demands that the European Commission’s decision to move adult learning from DG Education and Culture to DG Employment must not compromise the Commission’s commitment to lifelong learning. “Adult learning is certainly a great way to acquire new skills or upgrade skills for the workplace,” says Gina Ebner, EAEA Secretary General. “However, adult education has a much broader scope that goes beyond the labour market: it covers personal development, learning for seniors, civic learning and active citizenship, cultural and artistic expression and much more.” You can find the whole media release on their website.

OBESSU’s reaction to the new Commissioners

OBESSU calls Mr Navracsics, the Commissioner-designate for Education, Culture, Youth and Citizenship to demonstrate his commitment to European values by making sure the Commission continues to have constructive relations with civil society organisations, since many of them expressed their concerns about the treatment of civil society in Hungary. Moreover, OBESSU also expressed its concern about moving two units from DG EAC to DG EMPL, since it might jeopardise a comprehensive approach to vocational education and training. Read OBESSU’s whole reaction.

Open letter by the European Civic Forum regarding the designation of Mr. Tibor Navracsics

The ECF feels that the appointment of Mr. Navracsics as Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Citizenship would put under threat the relations between the European Commission and civil society organisations. This derives from the fact that Mr. Navracsics has been a key proponent of policies implemented by the Hungarian governments led by Mr. Orban that acted against the values of the European treaties and project and were criticised by the European Commission for decisions such as the constitutional reform process of 2013 and the reforms affecting media freedom in 2011. Read the open letter signed by numerous civil society organisations across Europe. Besides, Marton Vay, a Hungarian activist, launched an online petition, calling on the European Parliament to block the appointment of Mr. Navracsics as Commissioner. According to him, the Orban government was involved in the intimidation of non-profit organisations criticising the government by the police, putting teachers and the curriculum under political censorship and many others. You can read more about the petition and sign it online.
/// INSTITUTIONAL NEWS ///

A record-breaking year for Erasmus
The latest Erasmus statistics released by the European Commission reveal that nearly 270 000 students – a new record – benefited from EU grants to study or train abroad in 2012-2013. While studying at another university continues to be the most popular choice, one in five students (55 000) opted for Erasmus job placements in companies. As for the second Erasmus+ call, the inter-institutional agreements that higher education institutions sign before they start exchanging students and staff had to be adapted to take into account the specificity of mobility not only within Europe, but also outside of Europe.

EESC provides its opinion on the ‘digital society: access, education, training, employment, tools for equality’
The Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) was responsible for preparing the Committee’s work on the subject. The opinion provides a number of recommendations; for instance the EU should become a digital designer and producer instead of being solely a digital user and access to digital society should become a priority objective for European society.

EP’s Committee on Culture and Education raises its concerns about the draft general EU budget for 2015
The Committee on Culture and Education raised its concerns about the General Budget for 2015. The Committee criticises cutting the budget for the Europe for Citizens programme. Among other things, it also proposes improving the EU’s communication policy towards citizens, raising the profile of European volunteering and volunteer networks. The Committee points out that austerity measures destroying public services are jeopardising the possibility for education and training systems to contribute to economic recovery and that lifelong learning must be “a high priority in order to fight poverty and inequalities”.

European Day of Languages 2014
The annual European Day of Languages took place on 26 September. Both the European Commission and the Council of Europe participated in organising language-related events across Europe around this day. According to the Eurostat report on language learning on lower-secondary level in the EU, it seems that English, French and German remain the most common foreign languages studied at lower secondary level in the EU28 in 2012, even though Spanish learning has significantly increased. In the European Union there are 24 official languages, about 60 regional and minority languages, and more than 175 migrant languages. Read the press releaseand the speech of Ms. Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth on the European Day of Languages.

MEPs preparing questions for the commissioners-designate
EUobserver questions whether some of the new commissioners are going to be rejected during the European Parliament hearing. The commissioner-designate for Education, Culture, Youth and Citizenship, Hungary’s former Foreign Affairs Minister Tibor Navracsics, might face tough questions, considering the situation of civil society in Hungary. Among other things, MEPs ask him in written form how he is planning to develop European citizenship while taking fully into account the Charter on Fundamental Rights and which concrete measures he is going to take in order to promote civic participation and democratic involvement. You can find the agenda and watch the hearings online on the website of the European Parliament. EUCIS-LLL has also prepared a series of key questions it wants to ask the commissioner-designate.

Review of Youth Guarantee scheme pilot projects
The European Commission met with the coordinators of the 18 Youth Guarantee pilot projects in order to review achievements. EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor has been in favour of the projects asserting that “they show that this approach [the Youth Guarantee] works and brings results.” The Youth Guarantee scheme has been a subject of debate in the European Parliament as well. MEPs urged EU member states to make more efficient use of €6 billion in EU funds to ease the transition from education to jobs for young people and foster entrepreneurship. The European Youth Forum stressed in its publication of April 2014 that implementation of the plans in many member states does not work in practice.

/// RESEARCH & INNOVATION ///

Access to Education in Europe: A framework and agenda for system change (2014)
Based on interviews with senior government officials and senior management in universities, non-formal education and prisons across 12 countries in Europe, this book by Paul Downes identifies systemic obstacles to and opportunities for promotion of access to education for socio-economically excluded groups. The book identifies current gaps and strengths in policy, practice and structures that impact upon access to education across a range of countries, as well as key emerging issues for non-formal education. Moreover, an agenda to promote access is proposed through a range of structural indicators for consideration at the level of the European Commission. You can find the book on the following website. To access parts of the book, you can click on the following link.

New documents published by Eurydice
A new report on Financing Schools in Europe: Mechanisms, Methods and Criteria in Public Funding, has been published by the EACEA. This report provides a framework for understanding the structure of funding systems for public sector school level education in Europe. It also delivers a short comparative analysis of the authority levels involved, and methods and criteria used for determining the level of resources for financing school education. It is a starting point for dialogue and peer-learning between countries. A public debate on funding will be organised as a part of the Lifelong Learning Week 2014, which will be organised by EUCIS-LLL in December in Brussels. Soon you will be able to find more information about the Lifelong Learning Week 2014 on the following website. Another document has been published by Eurydice, namely the Recommended Annual Instruction Time in Full-time Compulsory Education in Europe 2013/14. This publication presents recommended minimum annual instruction time in full-time compulsory general education. In other words, it concerns the notional workload for the students as it is based on regulations or standards of the central education authorities or as established as a set of recommendations at regional level.

Priorities, challenges and prospects for civil society involvement in the Europe 2020 strategy beyond 2015

This study was carried out by Andrea Bellagamba following a call for tenders launched by the European Economic and Social Committee. The study includes the analysis of the role played by organised civil society in the policy making process, in the context of the Lisbon strategy and Europe 2020 strategy. More specifically, it focuses on the role played by the EESC through the network set up with the national Economic and social councils, as well as with European civil society organisations. The study presents case studies of four Member States: Belgium, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

The powerful elements of lifelong learning
The financial crisis has turned out to be an issue for low-skilled and unqualified workers regarding finding a job and an appropriate place in society. Courses for lifelong learning can be a lever for finding a better place in the society, but the question is which elements of the lifelong learning are the most important ones in order to achieve a successful learning environment for the adults. According to Maurice de Greef and her article, the following elements are crucial: flexible learning contents and activities for different adult learners, the use of transfer possibilities in interaction with the direct surroundings, the strength of teacher support and learning environment for adults as an interactive space.