Wednesday 16 June 2010

Europe 2020 strategy background note: Education and social inclusion at European Council 17 June 2010

The previous background blog post ahead of the June European Council referred to three of the headline targets of the Europe 2020 strategy for growth and jobs.

The Spring European Council 25 to 26 March fixed the headline targets for: employment; research and development (R&D); energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (document EUCO 7/10).

European Council 17 June 2010 aim

The European Council intends to finalise the Europe 2020 strategy at its meeting 17 June 2010. In particular, this entails setting the indicators and numerical targets concerning the fourth target, education, and the fifth target, social inclusion.

4 Education levels

According to the March European Council, two areas, education and social inclusion, required more preparatory work.

With regard to education levels, the Spring summit agreed to finalise the target in June (point 5(b), page 2):

improving education levels, in particular by aiming to reduce school drop-out rates and by increasing the share of the population having completed tertiary or equivalent education; taking into account the Commission's proposal, the European Council will set the numerical rates of these targets in June 2010;

Education ministers

The Council configuration Education, Youth and Culture on 10 to 11 May 2010 resulted in the following presidency conclusions (document 9456/10, page 11):

"The Council agreed to propose to the European Council in June 2010 the numerical rates of the EU headline targets to improve education levels of the new strategy Europe 2020, building on the two corresponding levels of European average performance ("European benchmarks") approved in the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), that is by 2020, the school drop-out rate should be less than 10% and the share of population having completed tertiary or equivalent education should be at least 40%.

In line with their responsibility for their education and training systems, the competence of the member states regarding the setting and implementation of quantitative national targets in the area of education and training is fully maintained. The principles and working methods agreed under the strategic framework for European cooperation in this field play their full role in monitoring progress towards the EU headline targets for education."

5 Social inclusion and poverty reduction

Regarding social inclusion and poverty reduction, the March European Council agreed to finalise the details of the headline goal in June (point 5(b), page 2):

promoting social inclusion, in particular through the reduction of poverty. Further work is needed on appropriate indicators. The European Council will revert to this issue at its June 2010 meeting.

EPSCO Council

The EPSCO Council (Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs) on 7 June 2010 adopted a social inclusion/poverty reduction target and indicators as a contribution to the European Council (document 10828/1/10 REV 1):

• that the quantified target of the Europe 2020 Strategy to promote social inclusion, in particular through the reduction of poverty, be formulated in such a way that it would aim at lifting at least 20 million people from the risk of poverty and exclusion by 2020;

• to accept the three set up indicators established by the Social Protection Committee.


We have seen two Council formations trying to define improved indicators and numerical targets ahead of the European Council. It is hard for a lay reader to understand how they alter or refine the Commission’s proposal. They look like a communicator’s nightmare.

If Coreper, the GAC, president Herman Van Rompuy or the European Council do not improve on the texts, hopefully someone with communicative skills translates these latest proposals on the summit table into clear and engaging prose, if the European Council wants to (as it tells us) involve national parliaments, social partners, regions and other stakeholders, so as to increase ownership of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Ralf Grahn

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