Tuesday

12th Dec 2017

Focus

Finance ministers are 'toughest challenge' to education policies

  • "Education is a future-oriented policy," commissioner Navracsics argued. (Photo: Daily Mile)

While the EU is seeing its way out of the economic crisis, the European Commission is trying to convince member states to pay more attention to youth and education policies.

"Education should play a bigger role than we probably have thought," commission vice president Jyrki Katainen noted on Tuesday (19 September).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

His colleague in charge of youth and education, Tibor Navracsics noted that education and youth have been "victims" of austerity policies and that "we have to invest more" in these two areas.

Katainen and Navracsics, who were speaking at an event organised by the European Policy Center (EPC), a Brussels think-tank, expressed some frustration at national politicians.

In the EU division of powers, the commission has no direct power in education.

"Education has not been prioritised everywhere," across the EU, Katainen noted.

He said that Europeans should be "stronger to adapt to new situations" and that "from a globalisation point of view and an industrial competitiveness point of view, education plays a greater role."

Katainen, who is in charge of jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness in the EU executive, argued that that educating and training people should be central to "resilience" policies.

Resilience is the EU executive's new concept to promote people, companies and countries' adaption to innovation and economic competition.

Navracsics pointed out that the austerity mindset from the crisis years was an obstacle to long-term policies.

"I'm not an anti-austerity politician," said the conservative Hungarian politician.

"But there are times when there is no place for austerity packages. We have to heal the wounds of austerity policies," he said.

He added, however, that social policies are not enough for that.

"My problem with the social policy approach is that they are concentrating only on unemployment gaps, problems in lab market, etcetera …," he said. "They can settle those issues very briefly but they can't think about the future."

"Social policy is too heavily present-day oriented. Education is a future-oriented policy," he argued.

Hinting at internal debates within the EU executive, he said that education should be an element of the commission's social pillar - a set of recommendations and initiatives - but that, for now, it is "only a slice of it".

He also put the blame on finance ministers.

"The most difficult task is to convince finance ministers to invest more in education," he said.

He announced that in January, the commission will organise an education summit to "try to bring together finance ministers".

"That's the biggest, the toughest challenge," he said.

'Parents will vote for you'

Katainen also pointed to other political obstacles to education policies.

"Highways in many countries are more interesting for policy makers than investment in teachers' training," he said, adding that he is trying to "change the mindset in these member states".

"I try to convince member states to shift focus from physical infrastructures to intellectual infrastructures."

He argued that politicians should consider that if they spend €1 million on improving teachers' skills or schools' infrastructure, rather than on building highways, "parents will vote for you".

"This may sound a bit pathetic, I just try to think of how to sell this resilience theme," Katainen concluded.

Education inequalities remain high in EU

Less people leave school prematurely, but socio-economic status, immigrant background and gender are still factors of underachievement, a commission report says.

EU 'rebrands' youth corps

The European Commission proposes a €341-million budget to get unemployed people into volunteering activities or traineeships that “promote solidarity” in their own countries or abroad.

Supported by

News in Brief

  1. EU to Israel: Don't expect us to move embassies
  2. EU Commission condemns anti-semitic 'Jerusalem' protests
  3. Ministers have 'lots of questions' on new CAP plans
  4. Commission: Brexit agreement is 'deal between gentlemen'
  5. 25 EU states sign defence cooperation pact
  6. Netanyahu wants 'hardy' talks with EU on Jerusalem
  7. French centre-right elects new leader
  8. Germany and UK increase arms sales

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  2. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  3. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  5. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  7. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  8. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  9. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  10. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  11. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  12. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage

Latest News

  1. Alignment with EU is 'last resort', May tells MPs
  2. Iceland: further from EU membership than ever
  3. Israel presses Jerusalem claim in EU capital
  4. From dark coal toward a brighter future
  5. UK casts doubt on EU deal in 'bizarre' twist
  6. Romania wants EU signal on Schengen membership
  7. Germany says China using LinkedIn to recruit informants
  8. No chance of expanding EU warrant crime list