In a private speech for the EU’s High Level Group on Education & Training, Irish Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn indicated recently the priorities of the Irish EU Presidency with regard to education. “In addition to Erasmus for All, we will be giving priority to advancing EU-level co-operation on a number of key topics that impact on these issues: the wider Skills agenda; Teacher education; Higher Education; and the ongoing implementation of National Qualifications Frameworks and the European Qualifications Framework (EQF).”
Minister Quinn expects much from European cooperation in the field of education and training. “We intend to continue efforts to increase the role of education and training in responding to Europe’s challenges, by optimising cooperation under the Open Method of Coordination.”
Demons of nationalism
Education Minister Quinn is known for his European zeal. At a recent anniversary of St Killian’s German School he stated that “The demons of nationalism, and dare I say it of chauvinism, those demons are still embedded within our culture and . . . will only stay in the place where they belong if we have more Europe, if we have a deeper Europe, if we have a wider Europe.” St Killian’s school had been founded after the Second World War to cater for child refugees from Germany.
“I passionately believe Europe has been at its strongest when it has worked together. That’s not idealism, but a basic incontestable fact. Check your memories, check you distant relatives”, Minister Quinn said at the presentation of the priorities of the Irish Presidency.
Education in the European Semester
He then also announced that ‘education’ will this year evolve into an important chapter in the European Semester process, the European monitoring mechanism through an annual cycle of macro-economic, budgetary an structural policy coordination.
“The Irish Presidency will work at securing an agreement of Horizon2020”, Minister Quinn continued. “The investments made today will benefit the need of European people and will create skills and sustainable employment.”
Greater equity in access to HE
“The Education Council meeting in May will identify ways to find greater equity of access to higher education”, Ruairi Quinn announced. “This is critical for equipping citizend and for attracting investments into the EU.”