| Official Journal of the European Union
| L 327/45
DECISION No 1720/2006/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL
of 15 November 2006
establishing an action programme in the field of lifelong learning
THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Articles 149(4) and 150(4) thereof,
Having regard to the proposal from the Commission,
Having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee (1),
Having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions (2),
Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 251 of the Treaty (3),
| Council Decision 1999/382/EC (4) established the second phase of the Community vocational training action programme ‘Leonardo da Vinci’.
| Decision No 253/2000/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (5) established the second phase of the Community action programme in the field of education ‘Socrates’.
| Decision No 2318/2003/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (6) established a multi-annual programme for the effective integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) in education and training systems in Europe (eLearning programme).
| Decision No 791/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (7) established a Community action programme to promote bodies active at European level in the field of education and training and to support specific activities in this field.
| Decision No 2241/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (8) established a single framework for the transparency of qualifications and competences (Europass).
| Decision No 2317/2003/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (9) established a programme for the enhancement of quality in higher education and the promotion of intercultural understanding through cooperation with third countries (Erasmus Mundus) (2004 to 2008).
| The Bologna Declaration, signed by the Ministers for Education of 29 European countries on 19 June 1999, established an intergovernmental process aimed at creating a ‘European Area of Higher Education’ by 2010, which requires support at Community level.
| The Lisbon European Council of 23 and 24 March 2000 set a strategic goal for the European Union to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion, and invited the Education Council to undertake a general reflection on the concrete future objectives of education systems, focusing on common concerns and priorities while respecting national diversity.
| An advanced knowledge society is the key to higher growth and employment rates. Education and training are essential priorities for the European Union in order to achieve the Lisbon goals.
| On 12 February 2001 the Council adopted a report on the concrete future objectives of education and training systems. On 14 June 2002 it subsequently adopted a detailed work programme on the follow-up of these objectives, requiring support at Community level.
| The Göteborg European Council of 15 and 16 June 2001 agreed a strategy for sustainable development and added an environmental dimension to the Lisbon process for employment, economic reform and social cohesion.
| The Barcelona European Council of 15 and 16 March 2002 set the objective of making European Union education and training systems a world quality reference by 2010, and called for action to improve the mastery of basic skills, in particular by teaching at least two foreign languages from a very early age.
| The Commission Communication and the Council Resolution of 27 June 2002 (10) on lifelong learning affirm that lifelong learning should be enhanced by actions and policies developed within the framework of Community programmes in this field.
| The Council Resolution of 19 December 2002 (11) established a process of enhanced European cooperation in vocational education and training, requiring support at Community level. The Copenhagen Declaration, agreed by the Ministers for Education of 31 European countries on 30 November 2002, associated the social partners and the candidate countries with this process.
| The Commission Communication on the Action Plan for skills and mobility noted the continuing need for action at European level to improve the recognition of education and training qualifications.
| The Commission Communication on the Action Plan promoting language learning and linguistic diversity set out actions to be taken at European level during the period from 2004 to 2006 and requires follow-up action.
| Promoting the teaching and learning of languages and linguistic diversity should be a priority of Community action in the field of education and training. The teaching and learning of languages is of special relevance among neighbouring Member States.
| The interim evaluation reports of the existing Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci programmes and the public consultation on the future of Community activity in education and training revealed a strong and in some respects growing need for continuing cooperation and mobility in these fields at European level. The reports emphasised the importance of creating closer links between Community programmes and policy developments in education and training, expressed the wish that Community action should be structured so as to respond better to the lifelong learning paradigm, and pressed for a simpler, more user-friendly and more flexible approach to implementing such action.
| Following the principle of sound financial management, the implementation of the programme may be simplified by recourse to lump sum funding, in respect either of support awarded to programme participants or of Community support for the structures established at national level for the administration of the programme.
| Significant advantages would accrue from integrating Community support for transnational cooperation and mobility in the fields of education and training into a single programme, which would permit greater synergies between the different fields of action and offer more capacity to support developments in lifelong learning and more coherent, streamlined and efficient modes of administration. A single programme would also encourage better cooperation between the various levels of education and training.
| A Lifelong Learning Programme should therefore be established to contribute through lifelong learning to the development of the European Union as an advanced knowledge society, with sustainable economic development, more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.
| Given the specificities of the schools, higher education, vocational training and adult education sectors, and the consequent need for Community action to be based on objectives, forms of action and organisational structures tailored to them, it is appropriate to retain individual programmes within the framework of the Lifelong Learning Programme targeted at each of these four sectors, while maximising the coherence and common ground between them.
| In its Communication ‘Building our common Future: Policy challenges and Budgetary means of the Enlarged Union 2007-2013’, the Commission set out a sequence of quantified targets to be achieved by the new generation of Community education and training programmes, which require a significant increase in mobility and partnership actions.
| Given the demonstrated beneficial impacts of transnational mobility on individuals and on education and training systems, the high volume of unfulfilled demand for mobility in all sectors, and its importance in the context of the Lisbon target, it is necessary to increase substantially the volume of support for transnational mobility in the four sectoral sub-programmes.
| In order to cover more adequately the real additional costs borne by students studying abroad, the standard student mobility grant should be maintained at an average of EUR 200 per month in real terms for the duration of the programme.
| More provision should be made for the mobility needs of individual school pupils at secondary level and of individual adult learners, hitherto not covered by Community programmes, by introducing a new type of mobility action into the Comenius and Grundtvig programmes. The opportunities offered by individual teacher mobility for the development of long-term cooperation between schools in neighbouring regions should also be exploited more fully.
| Small and medium-sized enterprises play an important role in the European economy. Hitherto, however, participation by such enterprises in the Leonardo da Vinci programme has been limited. Steps should be taken to improve the attractiveness of Community action to such enterprises, in particular by ensuring that more mobility opportunities are available for apprentices. Suitable arrangements, similar to those that exist under the Erasmus programme, should be made for the recognition of the outcomes of such mobility.
| Given the particular educational challenges facing the children of occupational travellers and mobile workers in Europe, full use should be made of the opportunities available under the Comenius programme to support transnational activities targeted at their needs.
| Increased mobility throughout Europe should