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Coimbra Group first reaction to the EC Communication on European Education Area

30 September 2020

The Coimbra Group welcomes the Communication from the European Commission on achieving the EEA by 2025 whose objective is to make the EEA (finally) a reality, an objective to which universities (and in particular the Coimbra Group) have made a constant and significant contribution for decades. The vision and roadmap proposed by the Commission are particularly important in the current political, financial and health context. The proposed six dimensions of consolidation are essential, making an adequate bridge with the UN SDGs and relying on human capital, both of the beneficiaries (pupils, students, citizens) but also of the actors (in particular the teachers), which is quite timely.

With regard to higher education, we see that the Alliances of European Universities (European Universities pilots) have a prominent place: it is indeed important that this pilot initiative is supported in a significant way but it should remain only one of the many available tools. In particular, all universities must be able to contribute to the objectives set by this communication, even if not participating to European Universities pilots. Noteworthy, the Erasmus(+) programme has shown its capacity to initiate profound changes in society by focusing on the development of innovative practices in (higher) education: this flexibility has been instrumental in the resilience exhibited by universities since the very beginning of the Covid-19 crisis. In the (near) future, this program will continue to play a prominent role in the EEA landscape: we can only repeat the need to allocate a significant budget to it in line with the announced ambitions. Without a true commitment from the Member States to fund copiously (higher) education, this ambitious communication will be in danger of becoming hollow.

The same recommendation applies to the European Research Area (and its main funding programme, Horizon Europe), which renewal will coincide with the EEA communication: these two communications are the two sides of the same coin; they must be implemented in full synergy and with the unfailing support of European Leaders.

The recent meeting that the Coimbra Group had with Commissioner Gabriel is perfectly reflected in the forthcoming EEA and ERA communications: ambitious, timely, adequate and concrete. The Coimbra Group can only wish their success and will support them as much as possible: the future of Europe is now in the hands of our Leaders…