‘Europe 2020’ is the European Commission’s policy blueprint for recovery from the crisis and for social and economic growth over the next decade. It sets out the Commission’s ideas for reviving the European economy and creating smart, sustainable, inclusive growth. Education and training policies are the main key if Europe is to meet its ambitions. Modernizing universities and opening up university education to more people are important for smart growth; building quality and access in basic education and lifelong learning will help deliver inclusive growth. The 2020 strategy proposes five headline targets:
On education, the Commission recommends efforts to cut the school dropout rate to below 10% from the current 15% and to increase the number of young people with a university degree or diploma from less than a third to at least 40%.
The other targets are increasing the employment rate to at least 75%, boosting spending on research and development to 3% of GDP (it is currently only 2%, significantly less than in the US and Japan), lifting 20 million people out of poverty and achieving the EU's 20/20/20 climate change and energy goals (20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, 20% of EU energy to come from renewable resources, 20% reduction in energy use).
The strategy proposes seven flagship initiatives to boost growth and employment. They include 'Youth on the Move', which aims to improve the performance and international attractiveness of our higher education institutions and raise the quality of all levels of education and training in the EU, combining both excellence and equity. 'Youth on the Move' initiative will be launched in June 2011. The EU will:
Enhance the Commission's student mobility, university and researchers' programmes (such as Erasmus, Erasmus Mundus, Tempus, Leonardo da Vinci and Marie Curie) and link them better with national programmes and resources;
Step up the modernization of higher education (curricula, governance and financing);
Explore ways of promoting entrepreneurship through mobility programmes for young professionals;
Promote the recognition of non-formal and informal learning;
Launch new youth employment policies to encourage apprenticeships, traineeships or other work experience, including the EURES scheme which promotes mobility across the EU.
The strategy is deliberately focused, instead of producing a lengthy and unrealistic 'wish list' of initiatives. Its success depends on an effective, coordinated approach and on every Member State playing its part to the full and supporting each initiative by regional and local authorities, social partners and civil society.