european students’ union

Warm welcome to European Commissioners designates that will impact education

September 29, 2014

BRUSSELS – The European Students’ Union (ESU) looks forward to following the hearings that the European Parliament launched today with the newly introduced designates for the European Commission. Those hearings are a part of their approval process, based on nominations from Jean-Claude Juncker, who is the President of the European Commission designate.

ESU is relieved to see that education remains as an integral component within this proposal contrary to rumours previously circulating in the media. A wider group of European Commissioners will lead policy areas that will impact students and education in one way or another. It will be challenging for the European Commission to coordinate this work but there is also a potential for having a greater impact.

Several nominees will hold portfolios that are vital to students and young people across the EU member states in addition to Tibor Navracsics, who has been nominated as European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Citizenship. ESU would like to especially welcome the presumptive commissioners that will carry out this work.

Welcome Tibor Navracsics!

As the European Commissioner of Education, Youth and Citizenship, you will be in charge of higher education policies. This is an area where the European Commission has been increasing its competences and influence in the most recent years. Much can be done to support reforms in Europe. The Ministerial Conference of the Bologna Process will be held this coming spring. This coincides with the mid-term reviews of the EU2020 and ET2020 frameworks. It is an exciting time to be the commissioner in charge of higher education. It is vital to revitalise Europe’s commitment to higher education reforms. The first year of your mandate will be key in achieving this goal and to set the tone for the mandate to come.

We are aware that this portfolio is not always seen as the most prestigious and even seemingly gets forgotten sometimes. However, this is a highly problematic approach to a very important area. We know that the work done in this area will have a far-reaching impact for years to come. Within ESU and our member unions, such as Hallgatói Önkormányzatok Országos Konferenciája  (HÖOK), which you know from Hungary, thousands of us work tirelessly to improve quality and access in education across Europe and even globally.

Erasmus+ and the European Commission’s policies for education can have a far-reaching impact. We strongly support the Erasmus+ programme and look forward to seeing and contributing to its successful implementation. However, as with any new programme, there are problems to be addressed and potential problems on the horizon, especially in relation to the European Masters’ Degree Loan Guarantee Scheme. We are concerned with the rapidly increasing debt of students in Europe.

We hope that in your new role you will defend education as a public good and public responsibility. We hope that you also see the broad role that education plays in society; in social and cultural development and democratic empowerment, in addition to creating jobs and opportunities. In his political guidelines, Juncker has highlighted that he wishes to see additional investments in education

. We hope that we can work together in advocating for this. Many member states have done

the opposite under the financial crisis. Together we can turn this ship around before th

e results become even more disastrous.

Welcome Carlos Moedas!

Research is tightly linked to education. Research-based curriculum and students’ involvement in research is essential in the future development of knowledge in Europe. As European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, your portfolio addresses many issues that impact students and education, such as social inclusion, gender equality in research institutions (which include higher education institutions) and the promotion of STEM. Horizon2020 will do a lot in supporting these aims. We look forward to establishing a fruitful cooperation with you in these areas and contributing to the success of Horizon2020. We believe in the benefit of the link between research and education. We hope that your mandate and our cooperation will help to strengthen this link.

Welcome Marianne Thyssen!

As the European Commissioner for Employment, Social affairs, Skills and Labour mobility you will be tackling several issues that heavily impact students and young people across EU member states. Skills and qualifications are key issues when it comes to overcoming the crisis in Europe. ESU has for a long time been involved in the improvement of tools that will help graduates and young people to find employment. Your portfolio will be a new approach to these challenges, and it will require a great deal of coordination with other areas in the European Commission, especially with regards to education and youth. We sincerely hope that this will improve working methods, but we also see that this new approach can be filled with risks, such as a lack of a holistic approach and coordination. We hope to continue working together to support a responsible agenda for skills and employment.

Welcome Dimitris Avramopoulos!

As the European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs you will be addressing the proposed visa directive that will increase mobility for students and young researchers. Cross-border mobility is a distinctive feature of numerous higher education institutions across EU member states. Removing administrative burdens in visa and migration procedures for non-EU students and researchers will increase Europe’s attractiveness as a destination for study and research. We know that convincing member states and passing this legislation will be challenging. We are willing to lend a strong hand in this endeavour, and we look forward to working together with you on this and related issues.

Welcome Jyrki Tapani Katainen!

As the Vice-President of Growth, Jobs, Investment and Competitiveness you will have a great impact on education and students. You will be liaising with Mr. Navaracsics, in addition to Ms. Thyssen and Mr. Moedas. You will perhaps have one of the most challenging tasks on your plate in the new European Commission. We would like to emphasise that education plays a key role in achieving the aims that you have been put in charge of. It is not a coincidence that the most competitive nations globally are heavily investing in education and not just for specific skills but in a broad sense. Juncker has also emphasised in his political guidelines the importance of additional investment in education. We look forward to supporting you and the new Commission in this aim.

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For more information, please contact:

Elisabeth Gehrke, ESU Chairperson: +32/479.591.499 // elisabeth@esu-online.org or Robert Hlynur Baldursson, ESU Communications Manager: +32/473.669.894 // robert@esu-online.org

The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 39 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out or Facebook page or visit www.esu-online.org. ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.

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