Reform of education: the Commission sees the bottle half empty, the Council half full

While the Commission aims to highlight the shortcomings in the reforms towards making education and training systems more efficient, the Council wants to emphasise the progress made so far in the report they will jointly present to the Spring European Council.

On 26 February 2004, the Education Council and the Commission will adopt a joint progress report on the achievement of the objectives set under the Lisbon strategy for education and training systems in Europe. This report will be presented to the Spring European Council taking place on 25-26 March 2004.

The institutions have diverging views on the content of this report. The Commission aims to highlight the shortcomings in implementing the work programme on the reforms of the education and training systems, whereas the Council wants to emphasise the progress made by the Member States, such as ICT and language skills.

In a Communication adopted in November 2003 to serve as a basis for the report, the Commission issued a wake-up call to speed up the reform of European training and education systems. The Commission warned that if Member States do not introduce in-depth reforms of their education and training systems, the whole Lisbon strategy could be a failure. It considers it necessary to put in place a mechanism for regular progress reporting by 2004 (see

EURACTIV, 13 November 2003)

Education ministers highlight the fact that the work programme and the reference indicators must take into account the specific characteristics of each Member State and their respective levels. They are opposed to having to report annually to the Commission on the progress in the implementation of the reforms considering that "the Commission's steering of training and education actions must be non-bureaucratic, flexible and observe the principle of subsidiarity".



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