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EU education ministers agree on need for ‘more effort’ to reach EU2020 targets

BRUSSELS – The EU Education Council agreed that ‘more efforts would be needed to meet the education targets by 2020’ during their meeting on 14 February in Brussels. The ministers for Education, of whom 18 were present at the debate, underlined as well that the national reform programmes that were presented so far are still ‘provisional’ and that the work was ‘ongoing’.

ESU’s Chairperson, Bert Vandenkendelaere: “Indeed, the member states are right to admit that these targets are not the final ones. They should aim higher and stick to the promises they have made when agreeing on the Europe 2020 Strategy.” The European Commission voiced the concerns of ESU and asked the member states during the Education Council to step up a gear.

The education targets are part of the Europe 2020 Strategy which has the overall aim of creating jobs and promoting a ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ throughout the Union. So far, as the European Students’ Union (ESU) has stated before recently, there has not been any proper involvement of the main stakeholders, such as the national unions of students (NUSes) in the process of the drafting of the national reform programmes. These programmes should translate the EU targets into national education targets.

Prior to the meeting, ESU had warned the ministers that member states should stick to the targets they have set for themselves when they agreed on the EU2020 Strategy in June 2010 if they do not want the strategy to fail in the first year of its implementation already.
Two targets
The national education targets will be based on the two education targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy which says that by 2020 less than 10 percent of the population aged 18-24 should have left school early and that at least 40 percent of the EU’s young adults (30-34) should have completed tertiary or equivalent education. So far, all EU countries, except for the Netherlands and UK have set targets but these will, according to calculations of the European Commission, not be enough the reach the education targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

During the Education Council, on 14 February, the ministers said as well that “when it comes to education issues, the focus should not only be on figures, the human factor and qualitative interventions are also extremely important”, but left it unclear what this would mean in practice. The key message from the Education Ministers which will be delivered to the Spring EU Council on 24-25 March, the gathering of EU heads of state and government, is the “crucial importance of investing in education and research in order to create more employment and boost competitiveness”.

For more information, please contact:
Bert Vandenkendelaere, Chairperson ESU: +32473669892 / or Marianne Slegers, Communications Manager ESU: +32473669894 /

The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 45 national unions of students from 38 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. For more information, please visit


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