The Bologna process has not been an easy travel. All the more
reason for MEP (Member of European Parliament) Luigi Berlinguer to
pride himself in the outcome of the parliamentary debate on his latest report. Speaking on the phone from
Strasburg, the former Italian Minister of Education Berlinguer is
quite pleased with the voting results. "The figures were 572 in
favour, 89 against and 8 abstentions. That is not at all bad if you
consider that the figure of 89 is mainly composed of eurosceptics
who oppose everything anyway."
One of the main critiques that Luigi Berlinguer voiced in his
recent report is the fact that the connection between the Bologna
process and the labour market has major flaws. "It is highly
problematic that we lack one common labour market. Fragmenting that
one labour market, as many European Member States are guilty of, is
a big obstacle for development. It means that a degree obtained in
one university is not necessarily valid in another EU-country."
Doctorate level not recognized
In the Bologna system there are three grades of higher
education: the bachelor, the master and the PhD. "However",
Berlinguer explains "in some countries the doctorate level is not
recognized as a university degree that also has a value for
professional careers, it is just seen as an academic career. It is
therefore imperative that we articulate professional competences in
a transparent manner."
The Berlinguer-report consequently recognizes the importance of
PhD-degrees, including those carried out in collaboration with
enterprises, for a knowledge-based economy and economic growth. "We
applaud the European Commission's commitment to developing a
European Industrial PhD-scheme within the Marie Curie actions."
By supporting the Berlinguer report, the European Parliament
endorses a larger role for the European Commission in the Bologna
process. Berlinguer: "Before, the European Commission was always a
bit shy when it came to education, but now they have a statutory
role, we would like them to help to move the Bologna process
The EP-report calls on the European Commission to encourage
mutual recognition by eliminating the administrative obstacles and
requests the Commission to develop a system of structured
cooperation in order to deliver 'joint degrees' within clusters of
disciplines, with recognition across the EU.
"We welcome the Commission's proposal to increase significantly
the funds devoted to European education and training programmes,
although we do not yet know how large the budget increase will be",
"Quality assurance is the key", Berlinguer concludes. "If you
want to build up mutual recognition, you will have to build up
mutual confidence." With a stable majority of MEPs behind him, the
basis for that confidence seems to be laid.