Priorities of the EU Luxembourgish Presidency

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On 1 July 2015 Luxembourg assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The Luxembourg Presidency work programme is based around 7 headings, including stimulating investment to boost growth and employment; managing migration; revitalising the single market with a focus on its digital dimension; and placing EU competitiveness in a global and transparent framework; promoting sustainable development and strengthening the EU’s presence on the global stage. Also included as a priority is the deepening the EU’s social dimension, with the objective of achieving progress in employment, justice and social protection. Youth are also specifically targeted within this last goal.

The priorities of the Luxembourg Presidency in the field of culture and education were presented to the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) last 14 July by Claude Meisch (Minister of Education, Children and Youth) and Maggy Nagel (Minister of Culture). For Culture, the focus will be on culture and development cooperation; for Education, the EU Luxembourg Presidency will focus on the inclusion of all young people in quality education.

With the Culture sector, the decision to focus on culture and development cooperation comes from the need to ensure coherence of policies at the time of the European Year for Development and when United Nations negotiations on Sustainable Development Goals are entering their final phase.At the beginning of September the Presidency hosted  in Luxembourg a conference entitled “Culture and development: towards a more strategic approach to cultural policies in EU external relations”.Nagel also mentioned the need to “remove barriers in order to allow European audiovisual and digital content to circulate (…) without discrimination on grounds of place of residence or nationality”.

In the field of Education, Meisch stated that the inclusion of all young people in quality education is the “prerequisite for promoting youth employability, active citizenship and adherence to common European values”, involving children and young people from all cultural, linguistic and cultural background.The Luxembourg Presidency wants to make progresses to implement the European and Training 2020 (ET2020) Strategic Framework.A Conference on “Diversity and Multilingualism in Early Childhood Education and Care” was held in September with the purpose to “identify levers, political actions and good practices which enables the needs of all children to be met in a context of multilingualism and diversity”. In cooperation with the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, the Grand Duchy also organised a hearing with young Europeans with or without special educational needs, having the opportunity to develop recommendations on inclusive education that will be brought to the attention of Education Ministers during the Council meeting to be held in November 2015.

New director at DG Education and Culture

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The European Commission has today appointed Ms Martine Reicherts  as the new Director-General of DG Education and Culture (DG EAC).The appointment has been made as part of the Commission’s decision to reshuffle its senior management staff. Ms Reicherts is Luxembourgish and from 2007 until 2015 she has worked as Director-General for the Publications Office of the European Union. Ms Reicherts has started her new role at DG EAC in September 2015.

Progress still needed towards inclusive societies

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In both the EU and the OECD, the immigrant population has grown by more than 30% since 2000. One in ten people living in the EU and OECD areas in 2012 was born abroad and one in four young people (15-34) is either foreign-born or the child of an immigrant.

This OECD/EU report presents the first detailed international comparison of the outcomes of immigrants and their children in all European Union and OECD countries. The indicators cover key dimensions of integration, including employment, education, income, housing, health, civic engagement and social cohesion. A special focus is on young people with a migration background.

Even if their labour market outcomes are generally better than those of their foreign-born parents, discrimination is felt more keenly among native-born children of immigrants than among persons who have themselves immigrated. This is true in EU countries, where one in five feels discriminated against, something not observed in non-European OECD countries.

Overall, educational outcomes are improving for many immigrant children and for those with immigrant parents but major gaps remain, notably for children with low-educated parents. In the European Union, the share of immigrant students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds who perform at the highest levels in the OECD’s PISA literacy tests is only half that of native-born students.

“Where your parents were born still has a major impact on your life chances,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “Countries are not making enough progress helping immigrants and their children integrate. This is a wake-up call on the need to strengthen integration policies to get the most out of migration, for our economies and societies and for the migrants themselves.”

OECD raises attention on youth unemployment

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The OECD’s Employment Outlook Report 2015 shows that the youth unemployment rate is still above the pre-crisis level in the large majority of countries, risking damage to long-term career prospects.The report found that Europe as a whole has fallen far behind in comparison to other parts of the world, where the overall unemployment rate in the United States is 6 percent and 4 percent in Japan and Korea, Europe remains much higher at 11 percent. The report also shows that the percentage of NEETs ( young people who are also not in education or training) have also considerably raised. “Time is running out to prevent the scars of the crisis becoming permanent, with millions of workers trapped at the bottom of the economic ladder,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “Governments need to act now to avoid a permanent increase in the number of workers stuck in chronic joblessness or moving between unemployment and low-paid precarious jobs.”

The European Commission has put into place in November 2014 the Investment Plan for Europe with the new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI),to boost economic recovery and strengthen Europe’s competitiveness by reversing the downward trend of investment and the hope is that this plan lives up to its potential to restore a healthy economy and inclusive society.

Dramatic increase in racism and intolerance reports Council of Europe

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The Annual Report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), published this July, identifies a dramatic increase in anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, online hate speech and xenophobic political discourse as main trends in 2014. Insults and physical attacks on Jewish persons and institutions increased significantly, with their number having more than doubled in some countries, according to the report. Tensions rose after renewed violence in the Middle East in 2014 and have led to widespread animosity against Jews in general. Growing antisemitic trends have, in addition, been observed in Muslim immigrant communities, mainly among young people. With regard to homo- and transphobia, the report describes a varied picture, with progress in some countries and problems in others where LGBT people still experience unacceptably high levels of stigma, intolerance and discrimination.

Launch of the Erasmus+ Students and Alumni Association

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A new umbrella association bringing together students and alumni of the Erasmus+ programme has been launched. The Erasmus+ Student and Alumni Association (ESAA) aims to offer a dynamic platform for networking, the professional development and intercultural learning of students, as well as creating opportunities for associations to work together to develop and improve Erasmus+ experiences. Four associations are brought together by ESAA, namely Erasmus Student Network, Erasmus Mundus Student and Alumni Association (EMA), the garagErasmus Foundation and Erasmus+ Oceans. For more information check: http://www.esaa-eu.org/#home

 

World Youth Skills Day

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The United Nations declared the 15th July as the official ‘World Youth Skills Day’ (WYSD) at its General Assembly in November last year, with the aim of drawing attention to the need for educating young people, and the benefits of developing their skills for local and global economies. The theme for this first WYSD linked in with the post-2015 agenda and the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals, two of which focus on inclusive education and skills for employment.The UN Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, also spoke out on this occasion.

European Day of Languages

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On the 26th of September we celebrated the European Day of Languages, aimed to highlight the linguistic diversity of Europe. Our continent counts over 200 languages, 24 official EU languages and about 60 regional/minority languages. In addition we can count many more languages spoken by people from other parts of the world. In view of the current migrant crisis, languages will play a central role in managing all aspects of integration of new arrivals across Europe. While the Commission continues to promote multilingualism under several programme, in particular Erasmus+, we notice that the EU has, in recent years, considerably scaled down its activity to promote languages as a key aspect of the European project.

For more information: Press release by the Lifelong Learning Platform,  Multilingualism policy in the EU 

International Day of Peace

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On 21st September the world celebrate the International Day of Peace which was established by the UN in 1981. The United Nations invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.The theme of this year’s commemoration is “Partnerships for Peace – Dignity for All” which aims to highlight the importance of all segments of society to work together to strive for peace.

For more information: http://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/

European Local democracy week

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European Local Democracy Week” (ELDW) is an annual European event where local authorities from all the 47 member states of the Council of Europe organise public events to meet and engage with their citizens on issues of current interest. The aim is to promote and foster democratic participation at local level. The 2015 Edition of the European Local Democracy Week will take place on 12-18 October and is dedicated to the theme of multiculturalism with a new slogan : “Living together in multicultural societies: respect, dialogue, interaction”.  European municipalities are encouraged to develop targeted programs and activities according to their own priorities.

For more information: http://www.congress-eldw.eu/en/page/117-presentation.html

Check the following publications:

  1. EUCIS-LLL Guidebook on EU decision making
  2. The Teaching Profession in Europe: Practices, Perceptions, and Policies
  3. Strengthening teaching in Europe
  4. Organisation of school time in Europe. Primary and general secondary education: 2015/16 school year
  5. The Organisation of the Academic Year in Higher Education, 2015/16
  6. Languages in Secondary Education: An Overview of National Tests in Europe – 2014/15
  7. Social inclusion of young people