On 8 November, the first ever joint meeting of member state education and finance ministers at EU level took place in Brussels. Discussions circled around the contribution of education and training to long-term sustainable growth and policies strengthening the efficiency and effectiveness of education systems.
“We are making history today. We want a strong message about investment in education for well-being, for equality, but also for a high employment rate,” said Finnish Education Minister Li Andersson. The Finnish EU Presidency underlined that “Finance ministers should not ask themselves about the cost of education, but what the cost of non-education is.”
While this was a policy debate with no decisions being taken over concrete amounts to be allocated under the next long-term EU budget, the fact itself that this joint meeting took place may well be taken as a sign that member states are becoming serious about giving higher priority to education at the European level.
After the policy debate with finance ministers, education ministers adopted a resolution on the further development of a European Education Area. While the resolution remains relatively vague as regards other levels of education, it is very specific on the European Universities Initiative, calling on the member states (themselves) “to remove possible legislative and non-legislative obstacles at national level when necessary.”