The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 27 countries. It operates a single market that trades globally and between its Member countries (allows free movement of goods, capital, services and people between member states).
The EU countries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
The EU is active in education innovations, exemplified as follow:
- The EU’s Education and Training Framework identifies objectives and a framework for collaboration among Member states, and the EU implements policies in early childhood education and care schools, vocational education and training, higher education, adult education, and the field of youth. The EU sets out a framework for cooperation among Member States.
- The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) operates as a forum at the crossroads between education systems and the world of work. Cedefop enables organisations to share ideas and consider how best to improve vocational education and training in Europe.
- The fall 2020 European Commission’s Communication on the European Education Area featured a commitment to work toward a European approach to microcredentials. This approach was also included in the European Skills Agenda (July 2022), which is expected to be used to implement the European Commission’s Digital Education Action Plan.
- The EC adopted a proposal for a European approach to micro-credits for lifelong learning and employability in December 2021. The proposal recommended that Member states: (1) apply a common EU definition, standards, and basic principles for the design and issuance of a micro-credit, including its portability; (2) develop an ecosystem for microcredentials; and (3) exploit the potential of microcredentials to support lifelong learning and employability. The goal is to help microcredentials to be developed, used, and benchmarked in a coherent manner by member states, stakeholders, and various providers (e.g., education and training institutions, private companies) across different sectors, domains, and borders. The proposal was subsequently adopted, together with a proposal for Individual Learning Accounts, which can support the development, use, and uptake of microcredentials. The microcredential and alternative credential providers include those outside higher education—business firms, professional bodies, training firms, and vocational education institutions.
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