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“Member states leave students out of national EU 2020 debates”

BRUSSELS –  As a part of the EU 2020 Strategy all member states drafted new national reform programmes outlining how they intend to reach the national targets by 2020.  Despite the promise of a transparent and public debate that was suppose to surround these reform programmes, ESU fears that key stakeholders in education, such as national unions of students, have been left out.

Deadline for the member states to deliver these drafts to the European Commission was 12 November 2010 and so far ESU has only seen a limited number of drafts. In the Europe 2020 Strategy, the new long-term strategy of the European Union, the member states defined the ambition of making the European Union a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. This includes as well concrete targets of raising higher education attainment to 40 percent by 2020.
Every member state was asked to outline their plans for actions and reforms which are needed to reach their tailored targets in accordance with a set of integrated guidelines. ESU thinks that these reform plans should be important policy debates on national level, and subject to openness and full stakeholder inclusion.

Lack of open debate

Despite this, the lack of open debate and an unsatisfying number of published drafts, indicate that the process so far is mainly a letter exchange between bureaucrats on national level and in the Commission. Therefore, ESU will now approach its member unions in the Member States to scrutinise the draft programmes and enlighten the situation.

ESU has repeatedly said that if member states want the ambitions in the Europe 2020 Strategy to turn into reality, national actions need to underscore increasing access, quality and success in higher education. If there is a lack of political openness and will to invest real efforts and financing, this could threaten to undermine the Europe 2020 Strategy, and thus the same mistakes as with the failed targets of the Lisbon Agenda (Previous economic stategy of the EU, 2001-2010) will be made.

Published: 27 January 2011

For more information, please contact Magnus Malnes, member of ESU’s Academic Affairs Committee on or Marianne Slegers, ESU’s Communications Manager on +32473669894 /


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