Tuesday, 16 December 2008

European Union: Vocational training policy

The European Community (European Union) implements a vocational training policy, which supports and supplements the action of the member states.


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Article 150 TEC

Chapter 3 Education, vocational training and youth continues with Article 150 TEC (ex Article 127) setting out European Community (European Union) aims and activities concerning vocational training.

The attentive reader may have noticed that the Community contributes to the development of quality education in the preceding Article 149 TEC, whereas the treaty mentions a vocational training policy in Article 150 TEC.

In the field of vocational training, the aims are closely related to the original aims of the Treaty establishing the European Community (EEC), including the European Social Fund (ESF), but the difference compared to education is more of a nuance than a reality.

The vocational training activities are still to support and to supplement member states’ actions, and their responsibility is emphasised.

The current Article 150 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC), as published in the latest consolidated version of the treaties, OJ 29.12.2006 C 321 E/113:

(CHAPTER 3
EDUCATION, VOCATIONAL TRAINING AND YOUTH)

Article 150 TEC

1. The Community shall implement a vocational training policy which shall support and supplement the action of the Member States, while fully respecting the responsibility of the Member States for the content and organisation of vocational training.

2. Community action shall aim to:

— facilitate adaptation to industrial changes, in particular through vocational training and retraining,

— improve initial and continuing vocational training in order to facilitate vocational integration and reintegration into the labour market,

— facilitate access to vocational training and encourage mobility of instructors and trainees and particularly young people,

— stimulate cooperation on training between educational or training establishments and firms,

— develop exchanges of information and experience on issues common to the training systems of the Member States.

3. The Community and the Member States shall foster cooperation with third countries and the competent international organisations in the sphere of vocational training.

4. The Council, acting in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 251 and after consulting the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, shall adopt measures to contribute to the achievement of the objectives referred to in this Article, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States.

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Original Lisbon Treaty (ToL)

Although the Treaty of Lisbon is unreadable on its own, it spells out how the current treaties are amended.

Article 2, point 125 of the original Treaty of Lisbon (ToL) adds recommendations to the policy instruments in the field of vocational training, with the following specific amendment (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/82):

125) In Article 150(4), the following words shall be added at the end: ‘, and the Council, on a
proposal from the Commission, shall adopt recommendations’.

The horizontal amendments replace ‘Community’ by ‘Union’ and the ‘procedure referred to in Article 251’ (cooperation procedure) is replaced by the more readable ‘ordinary legislative procedure’.

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Renumbering ToL

The Table of equivalences of the original Treaty of Lisbon tells us that the Chapter 3 on education, vocational training and youth was first to become Title XI Education, vocational training, youth and sport, but renumbered Title XII in the consolidated version.

Article 150 TEC first became Article 150 TFEU (ToL), then renumbered Article 166 TFEU in the consolidated versions of the amending treaties (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/217).


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Lisbon Treaty consolidated

After the explicit amendment, horizontal amendments and renumbering, Article 166 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) appears as follows in the consolidated TFEU, published in the Official Journal of the European Union, OJ 9.5.2008 C 115/121:

(TITLE XII
EDUCATION, VOCATIONAL TRAINING, YOUTH AND SPORT)

Article 166 TFEU
(ex Article 150 TEC)

1. The Union shall implement a vocational training policy which shall support and supplement the action of the Member States, while fully respecting the responsibility of the Member States for the content and organisation of vocational training.

2. Union action shall aim to:

— facilitate adaptation to industrial changes, in particular through vocational training and retraining,

— improve initial and continuing vocational training in order to facilitate vocational integration and reintegration into the labour market,

— facilitate access to vocational training and encourage mobility of instructors and trainees and particularly young people,

— stimulate cooperation on training between educational or training establishments and firms,

— develop exchanges of information and experience on issues common to the training systems of the Member States.

3. The Union and the Member States shall foster cooperation with third countries and the competent international organisations in the sphere of vocational training.

4. The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure and after consulting the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, shall adopt measures to contribute to the achievement of the objectives referred to in this Article, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States, and the Council, on a proposal from the Commission, shall adopt recommendations.


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EU competence

Having looked at the powers of the European Union in the field of vocational training as set out by the Treaty of Lisbon, it might be helpful to recall the general TFEU provisions on categories and areas of Union competence.

Article 2 TFEU presents the main characteristics of exclusive competence and shared competence before the description in Article 2(5) TFEU:

5. In certain areas and under the conditions laid down in the Treaties, the Union shall have competence to carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States, without thereby superseding their competence in these areas.

Legally binding acts of the Union adopted on the basis of the provisions of the Treaties relating to these areas shall not entail harmonisation of Member States' laws or regulations.


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Article 6 TFEU

The policy areas are then formed into rough groups in the following Articles. Here we are interested in Article 6 TFEU. Education, vocational training, youth and sport are mentioned among the areas, where the EU supports, coordinates or supplements member states’ actions:

Article 6 TFEU

The Union shall have competence to carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement the
actions of the Member States. The areas of such action shall, at European level, be:

(a) protection and improvement of human health;

(b) industry;

(c) culture;

(d) tourism;

(e) education, vocational training, youth and sport;

(f) civil protection;

(g) administrative cooperation.

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Summary of legislation: Education and training

On the Commission’s Scadplus web pages with summaries of legislation, there is one offering a plethora of links to different aspects of Education and training: General framework:

http://europa.eu/scadplus/leg/en/s19004.htm

News and links

General Commission news and links concerning education and training can be found here:

http://ec.europa.eu/education/index_en.htm

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Lifelong learning

Lifelong learning and the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs are common catchwords. The Lifelong learning programme 2007–2013 incorporates many of the best known activities of the European Union, such as the Comenius, Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Grundtvig and Jean Monnet programmes as well as a transversal programme.

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Leonardo da Vinci

Of these programmes, Leonardo da Vinci addresses vocational education and training. Additional information about the Leonardo da Vinci programme can be found through this web page:

http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning-programme/doc82_en.htm



A page dedicated to Vocational education and training (VET) can be found here:

http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning-policy/doc60_en.htm



Ralf Grahn