We live in a time of significant global challenges. The climate change is threatening everything we know. Brexit and the crisis of democracy are challenging the member states and EU institutions all over Europe.
Now is the time for solutions. Education is the only way we can resolve these major challenges of our time. Finland has a unique opportunity to make education and competence into high-priority themes during its EU presidency in the second half of this year.
In the upcoming multiannual financial framework, the European Union must invest more heavily in research, education and lifelong learning. Each EU member state should invest at least two per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) in higher education. This aim comes straight from the aims of the European Education Area, which have been drawn up by the European Commission. We support these aims.
You could say that Erasmus is the EU’s most successful project, as the Erasmus programme is the clearest way to include the EU in young European’s everyday lives. As a programme promoting international mobility, Erasmus is in a key position to create a European and international identity among the students in the member states.
We support the European Parliament’s decision to triple the funding for Erasmus+. The programme’s accessibility should be increased, and its administrative burden should be decreased. It must also be ensured that the Erasmus funding is allocated to international mobility, as currently some of the Erasmus funding is being used e.g. to launch the European Universities Network. The latter project is of itself a very useful project that we support fully, but a funding source must be found for it that does not reduce the available funding for international mobility.
High-quality education – a united EU
Innovations are not born in a vacuum. Education, research and innovation policy must be coherent and support each other within the decision-making of the EU. This is why the new Commission that will be elected in the autumn should appoint an EU Commissioner for education, research and innovation. This Commissioner would be in charge of developing the European Education Area and education as a whole in regard to both preparations and decision-making. This will increase the intrinsic value of education within the EU.
The Committee on Culture and Education plays a key role when it comes to the EU education policy. Getting a Finnish Member of the European Parliament appointed to this Committee would be an opportunity for the entire EU. Our knowledge of education is at the highest level internationally, so I see it as an opportunity for the most skilled people to develop European education at the EU level. A key position in relation to this task is available. Who will take up this position?
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