All posts by Audrey

EUCIS-LLL Position Paper “Why Education should be excluded from TTIP”


In 2013, the EU started negotiations with the US over a free trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which aims at reducing barriers and harmonising systems between the two actors. The 8th round of TTIP negotiations took place from 2 to 6 February 2015 in Brussels. EUCIS-LLL is deeply concerned by the possible consequences of the negotiations on our European education and training sectors. EUCIS-LLL promotes a comprehensive approach to education where bridges are made between non-formal and formal education. Without a clear exemption system, the agreement could represent a threat to most educational sectors and in turn be a threat to our European social model. EUCIS-LLL thus wants to firmly underline that education is a public good and asks the European Commission and the Member States to exclude education from the negotiations as it did for the audio-visual sector based on the public interest in preserving and promoting cultural and linguistic diversity. EUCIS-LLL also shares the views of stakeholders in the field who are concerned about the transparency of this process and demand to stop closed-doors negotiations. This position paper reflects the views of our members as regards the ongoing TTIP negotiations.

Download the paper here:


EUCIS-LLL Activity Report 2014 available now!

eucislll_activity_report_2014EUCIS-LLL just published its 2014 Activity Report, providing a thematic overview of our actions during 2014. In 2014 EUCIS-LLL continued with good work. We organised several events in the European Parliament, including our 4th Lifelong Learning Week. We have been partners of different European initiatives in the field of civil society representation. The Annual Conference 2014 was linked to European priorities, in order to send timely input in the framework of the Education and Training 2020 Review. We continued with our policy analysis and contributions via our website and different publications and we participated in high level working groups and events. Download our Activity Report.

EUCIS-LLL Director at ‘Forward-Looking Cooperation Projects’ Infoday

Audrey at KA3 InfodayThe European Commission and the EACEA organised an Infoday in Brussels to explain funding opportunities available under Key Action 3 – ‘Support for Policy Reform – Prospective Initiatives – Forward-Looking Cooperation Projects (Call n° EACEA/33/2014)’. Speakers presented the policy framework and policy priorities of this Call and offered advice and tips on preparing and submitting proposals. EUCIS-LLL Director Audrey Frith participated in the event as one of the speakers, where she shared EUCIS-LLL experience with policy cooperation and innovation regarding projects, more particularly, the LLL-Hub project, and highlighted success factors for policy-focused EU projects in the Erasmus+ programme.

EUCIS-LLL on the Europe 2020 strategy – From political will to implementation

eu2020The Europe 2020 Strategy is on the verge of its mid-term review. Inequalities in European education and training systems have increased simultaneously with the crisis, with vulnerable groups being particularly disadvantaged. The level of low-skilled adults, increased numbers of people at the risk of social exclusion and rising unemployment levels in most Member States show that much more needs to be done in order to reach the 2020 targets. This will require a renewed political commitment to foster lifelong learning at European level with a stronger focus on the social dimension of education, training and youth policies and funds.

Lifelong Learning Week 2014 Overview

LLL Week Banner 2014

EUCIS-LLL organised successfully its 4th Lifelong Learning Week from 2 to 11 December, with the support of Julie Ward (S&D, UK). The name of the Week is rightly associated with our manifesto Building together the future of learning. Namely, the topics discussed at our main events of the Week were rooted in the three pillars, focusing on the issue of efficiency and equity when it comes to funding of education, tackling exclusion and inequalities in education and training and validation of non-formal and informal learning in Europe. We gathered civil society and EU institutions representatives and researchers in order to share good practices, address future challenges and discuss next possible steps. Our Civil Society Meeting Place proved once again that the general public is interested and supportive of the concept of lifelong learning. We see this as opportunity to stress the need of adopting a holistic approach at all levels of decision-making, implementation and evaluation, in the crucial moment while the EU cooperation in education and training is being revised (ET2020 strategic Framework mid-term review).



At our round table on Efficient and equitable funding of education: A target beyond reach? on 9 December, organised with the support of Jill Evans (Greens/EFA, UK), we looked into the disparity between the call for sustainable investment in growth-friendly areas such as education, and the call for austerity measures which damages them. With the help of our speakers and the audience, we tried to find some answers, including the crucial question on how to find a balance between efficiency and equity in funding of education. MEP Jill Evans welcomed the audience and said she was happy to contribute to finding sustainable solutions to funding of education, EUCIS-LLL Vice-president Etelberto Costa‘s opened the first panel discussion on Efficiency and equity: Where and how to invest in education?Elisabeth Gehrke, Chairperson of European Students’ Union, talked about the importance of equity in education, and stressed out how invalid the “we can’t afford it” argument is, since, OECD, among others, proved that for every euro invested in education, three euros come back. Ides Nicaise, professor and researcher at KU Leuven, added that more knowledge-based economy would reach the goal of more competitive and socially cohesive Europe, as set in the Lisbon 2000 strategy. He also emphasised the importance of investing particularly in basic skills, which turns out to be the missing pillar of the EU strategy. Early school leaving targets are insufficient to achieve equity as it concerns only a limited number of citizens whereas there are very high numbers of low-skilled adults in our societies which has a strong impact on poverty levels. He concluded by pointing out a lack of coherence between the different policies and benchmarks. Gina Ebner, EAEA Secretary General added that we must ensure education is always seen as public good. EUCIS-LLL Vice-President Etelberto Costa added that we need more dialogue on the EU level and that the only way forward for civil society organisations is to collaborate closely with researchers and policy-makers. As a part of the second panel on How to make sure education is considered as investment?Ragnar Weilandt from the European Citizens’ Initiative “Invest in education”, mentioned as one of the challenges the fact that it is easier in political terms to cut funding to education than pensions. What we can do, as civil society organisations, is to encourage more public funds for education on the EU and national level, he added. While fostering competitiveness and growth, we must never forget social cohesion, said Paola Cammilli, Programme Officer at ETUCE. According to her, education must be meaningful beyond simple matrixes and data. ESN President Stefan Jahnke proposed raising awareness on country specific recommendations in civil society organisations and beyond. EUCIS-LLL President David Lopez concluded that our actions can only be effective if linking the national and European level. EUCIS-LLL strongly advocates for more socially cohesive Europe and more equitable funding of education. Education must not be a victim of austerity measures, it should always remain high on the priority list, since our socio-economic models rely heavily on quality education.


IMG_0306At our seminar on Inclusive education. Fighting inequalities in education and training, organised with the support of Julie Ward (S&D, UK), we gathered a diverse audience in order to discuss what the strategy on inclusive education could look like within the Europe 2020 Strategy. With the help of our speakers and the audience, we tried to find some answers linked to the search for balance between efficiency and equity in funding of education. EUCIS-LLL Vice-president Daniele di Mitri opened the event by reviewing the current situation in Europe. The inclusive pillar of growth seems to be forgotten in times of crisis. However, education is a tool which empowers people and ensures social inclusion and therefore plays an important role. Education is empowering people and we should devote more attention to accessibility to education for all, he continued. MEP Julie Ward (S&D, UK) welcomed the participants of the event, by stating her personal experience and how important she thinks inclusive education is for communities. Paul Downes, Director at Educational Disadvantage Centre and Senior Lecturer in Education (Psychology) at St. Patrick’s College, Dublin City University, presented his recent book ’Access to Education in Europe: A Framework and Agenda for System Change‘, where he focused on access to higher education for disadvantaged people, by studying and comparing data collected by interviewing 196 people from 12 countries. The access to higher education for socio-economically marginalised groups has not been sufficiently developed, Downes concluded. Thomas Huddleston, Programme Director Migration and Integration, “A Clear Agenda for Migrant Education in Europe”, continued by presenting the problem in the context of migrants’ education, and he pointed out the need for educators with immigrant backgrounds themselves, and educators with the knowledge of immigrants’ languages. EAEA Secretary-General Gina Ebner presented the Outreach-Empowerment-Diversity project and stressed the necessity of making learning attractive. She also added that the outreach part is the key and it needs a comprehensive approach. MEP Brando Benifei stressed that we have to take a look at the general macroeconomic and social situation which has led to rising inequalities and disengagement from politics in Europe. He highlighted the use of different, better social indicators and called for investment in education and training. Last but not least, Giuseppina Tucci, OBESSU’s Board member, presented their campaign “Education, we have a problem“, covering the topics of cost of education, education snobbery, special needs, ethnic and religious minorities, gender identity and sexual orientation. OBESSU advocates not only for equal access to education, but also equality of educational pathways and against any type of discrimination. The conclusion of the seminar is to have a follow-up meeting with all the participants interested and to come up with a concrete proposal for tackling the inequalities in education by the end of 2015. EUCIS-LLL firmly stands against the marginalisation of vulnerable groups and advocates for the opportunity for everyone to be able to access programmes regardless of their socio-economic and cultural background.


IMG_0433The policy debate on Validation of non-formal and informal learning: All aboard. How to reach the targeted public? on 11 December was hosted by MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP, FI). In her opening remarks, Pietikäinen stressed the role of education in developing the capacity to cope with our complex society and the role of Lifelong Learning as a prerequisite to our modern world. EUCIS-LLL President David Lopez reminded of the 2012 Council Recommendation, calling for setting up validation arrangements by 2018. He emphasised the necessity of opening up the debate on lifelong learning in the EU institutions. An overall key to success is the capacity to reach disadvantaged groups and to reinforce cooperation between researchers, practitioners and decision-makers. The first panel discussed experiences in reaching out to disadvantaged groups. Sharon Watson presented the work of WEA (UK) in the framework of SOLIDAR “Building learning societies” project. The approach of validation for community development is person-centred, starting from building trust and engagement with non-formal education as the first step. She concluded that comprehensive and flexible validation should be an individual right. Ana Contreras, president of Romani Association of Women Drom Kotar Mestipen presented the ROM-ACT Project (2013 -2014), which aims at widening access to non-formal and informal learning validation systems among Roma and Traveller women in Europe. She pointed out the importance of involving disadvantaged groups themselves in the policy-making process. Ana Claudia Valente, Researcher and Board member of CEPCEP, Portuguese Catholic University, shared recent experience from Portugal, revealing that age and educational level determine to a large extent the chances of participating in LLL. She added that reaching out to a high number (80%) of discouraged and resistant adults is crucial, as well as providing accessible and meaningful learning opportunities which benefit low-educated adults’ self-confidence and skills. The second panel discussion focused mainly on how to improve the practice-research-policy-making triangle. Chiara Rondino (EC, DG EMPL) presented the Commission views on non-formal and informal learning in Europe. According to her, the progress on validation is very heterogeneous and has three main challenges: low level of awareness and understanding among the general public, non-existing long term strategy and integration of practices and policies, and the issue of data collection (not enough data on people’s experiences in the processes). Moreover, many countries have issues with funding of education and the quality of assessment – the formal, non-formal and informal learning have to be equally treated. Claudia Gaylor (f-bb Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training) discussed German experience and highlighted that atypical educational pathways are on the rise. According to her, potential to obtain skills and qualifications needs to be upheld, adding that validation is not very high on the agenda in Germany. The position of stakeholders has to be assured while looking to other countries and their good practices. Jens Bjornavold (CEDEFOP) mentioned the European Inventory and explained there is a slow, but steady development of validation arrangements throughout Europe and both the political and general awareness have increased. Still, validation is somewhat restrained to vocational education and training, while other education sectors lag behind. Low qualified individuals are the main targets for validation arrangements. 


IMG_0484Dr. Martin Noack (Bertelsmann Stiftung) opened the Bertelsmann Stiftung VNFIL in Europe: Learning from the best event, organised with the support of EUCIS-LLL and MEP Tamás Meszerics (Greens/EFA, HU), by shedding light to comparative study on the recognition and validation of non-formal and informal learning in Europe. He pointed out the case of Germany, which has a successful dual system, often used as a model around the world. However, the country faces serious challenges. For instance, 6.1 million people of working age do not have a formal VET degree. The current study was intended to look at elements of other systems that can be transferable, by focusing on specific elements and not replicating existing ones. In his welcoming words, MEP Tamás Meszerics (Greens/EFA, Hungary) recognised the difficulties of acknowledging non-formal and informal skills. In his opinion, the challenge is to identify and compare skills – not only in terms of employability, but also social inclusion. Prof. Dr. Nicolas SCHÖPF, University of Applied Labour Studies (Mannheim, Germany) presented the methodological procedures of the study, identifying 5 core elements: legal frameworks, financing of the validation, institutionalisation, procedures and instruments and support structures. Moreover, he discussed the quality criteria which were developed within a scale – used to compare situations in different countries in order to identify core elements. The opening was followed by good practice presentations from several countries. Janet Looney, European Institute of Education and Social Policy (EIESP), presented the legal frameworks in France; Nicolas SCHÖPF focused on the institutional and financial structures in Austria and Switzerland; ECVET expert Andrew McCoshan explored the support structures in the UK, while Matthias Haaber (Danish Ministry of Education) presented the procedures and instruments in Denmark. For example, the Swiss dual VET system with two certificates and the financial structures for VNIL are different in each canton, with a federal recommendation to provide access free of charge. The procedure is most of the time free, especially for low-income families. In other cases families or employers have to contribute. As another interesting example, a newly amended SCQF handbook in Scotland was discussed and its implications for validation process.  EUCIS-LLL considers validation to be a great tool for making lifelong learning a reality for the largest number of people. From our point of view, developing validation practices is about valuing a lifelong and life-wide approach to learning by enabling an in-depth modernisation of education and training system to create open, flexible and individualised learning environments.

EUCIS-LLL would hereby like to thank all the participants of the LLL Week – you truly contributed to building the future of learning in Europe. We hope to see you again next year at the 5th Lifelong Learning Week!

EUCIS-LLL press release: Volunteers: towards a better recognition of their contribution to build a fairer society

Volunteering plays an indispensable and capital role in lifelong learning. In education and training, volunteers are young people, parents, learners or educators of all ages committed to improve education and training systems. Volunteers develop personal, social and civic competences that are seldom recognised by educational institutions and companies. Volunteers need to be supported if they express the wish to have the knowledge and skills acquired through volunteering recognised and validated. In terms of implementation, the European guidelines for validating non-formal and informal learning already offer prospective solutions. Other tools are being developed notably in the youth sector that ought to be better shared and known across Europe and across sectors. The development of portfolios for example can help volunteers being aware of their learning outcomes especially if they come with proper guidance. This process can boost volunteers´ motivation and self esteem as well as their employability.

The value of volunteering is an expression of active citizenship that enriches democracy and contributes to develop solidarity and social cohesion, a value which is not only in great need in the current economic and social climate, but also one upon which the European Union has been built. Moreover, volunteering contributes to develop a sense of common identity and mutual understanding. Volunteering is freely given, but not cost free – it needs and deserves targeted support from all stakeholders – volunteer organisations, government at all levels, businesses and an enabling policy environment including a volunteering infrastructures[1]. EUCIS-LLL has made proposals to create a supportive environment for volunteering such as the provision of European active citizenship education at all levels of our education systems, better recognition of the skills acquired through volunteering and the recognition of volunteers’ involvement in EU and national projects. The EU should capitalize on the outputs of the European Year 2011 on Volunteering and on the European Year of Citizens 2013 to impulse better recognition, promotion and facilitation of volunteering in order to realise its full potential.

Let us honour and celebrate today the role played by thousands of volunteers across the world!

See and share the press release!



Bertelsmann Stiftung Study Launch “Learning from the best”

stiftung banner

Thu 11 December, 14:00-16:00 // University Foundation, Rue d’Egmont 11 (Metro Trone), Brussels

The seminar is organised by the Bertelsmann Stiftung in partnership with EUCIS-LLL in order to present the results of the foundation’s study on transferable elements from various validation systems in Europe. The visualization and acknowledgement of informally and non-formally acquired competencies is very important on an individual level to empower and engage citizens for a path to Lifelong Learning. Especially since the general trend towards higher qualifications is reducing the opportunities for professional and social advancement for those with low formal qualifications. But validation is also crucial in economic terms in view of the foreseeable lack of skilled workers in some European countries due to demographic change. Therefore we need regulations and procedures for capturing and recognizing the results of informal and non-formal learning processes. National recognition systems for informal and non-formal learning cannot be transferred in full to other countries due to the country-specific conditions of the education and training systems. Thus we will look at individual core elements of a validation system. These are: legal framework, procedures and instruments, financial structures, institutionalisation and support structures. Experts from European countries will report on the main concepts, legal regulations, how recognition works in practice and in how far these processes benefit people with low formal qualifications.

Agenda *

14:00 Welcome words

  • MEP Tamás MESZERICS (Greens/EFA, Hungary)
  • Dr. Martin Noack, Senior Project Manager, Bertelsmann Stiftung (Gütersloh, Germany)

14:10 Introduction to the study

  • Prof. Dr. Eckart SEVERING, Director of the f-bb Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training (Nuremberg, Germany)

14:20 Best Practice presentations and discussion

  • France – Janet LOONEY, Director of the European Institute of Education and Social Policy (EIESP) (Paris, France)
  • Austria, Switzerland – Prof. Dr. Nicolas SCHÖPF, University of Applied Labour Studies (Mannheim, Germany)
  • United Kingdom – Dr. Andrew McCOSHAN, ECVET expert UK and consultant (Brierley Hill, UK)
  • Denmark – Matthias HAABER, Center for the Development and Content of Vocational Upper Secondary and Adult Education and Training, Danish Ministry of Education (Copenhagen, Denmark)

15:50 Transfer criteria and conclusion

  • Prof. Dr. Eckart SEVERING, f-bb Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training (Nuremberg, Germany)


The event was following the EUCIS-LLL Policy Debate “Validation of non-formal and informal learning: All aboard! How to reach the targeted public?” from 09:30 to 13:00.

EUCIS-LLL Seminar – Launch of the flagship initiative on ‘Inclusive Education. Fighting inequalities in education and training’


Wed 10 December, 09:30-12:30 // University Foundation, Rue d’Egmont 11 (Metro Trone), Brussels

The social dimension of lifelong learning has been neglected in the 1st cycle of the Europe 2020 and ET2020 strategies. Learning is powerful in getting people more engaged in society in its economic, political and social dimensions. Providing high quality learning opportunities to all and especially to the most disadvantaged is crucial not only for our ageing workforce to cope with ever more competitive and changing labour markets, but also to be more socially included and have better living conditions. Inequalities persist in European education and training systems where vulnerable groups such as migrants are particularly disadvantaged.  As European history shows, rising inequalities go hand in hand with rising nationalism and discrimination. EUCIS-LLL firmly believes that we should refocus EU cooperation on equity, democracy and social cohesion. Let us re-engage to deliver the vision of a social Europe with high levels of quality education in respect of Article 9 of the Treaty. The EU has undertaken a series of actions to answer some of these challenges including the Youth Guarantee, cooperation on early-school leaving, Social Investment Package, Social dimension of the Bologna Process and the Roma Initiative. However we miss a coherent strategy heading those measures towards clear goals and national/regional roadmaps and a strong political will. The seminar is meant to bring people together to discuss what this strategy could look like within the Europe 2020 Strategy.


Opening session

  • Welcome words from Daniele DI MITRI, EUCIS-LLL Vice-President
  • Opening by MEP Julie WARD, UK, S&D


  • Paul DOWNES, Director at Educational Disadvantage Centre, Senior Lecturer in Education (Psychology) at St. Patrick’s College, Dublin City University – ‘Access to Education in Europe: A Framework and Agenda for System Change– see presentation

Panel discussion

  • MEP Brando BENIFEI (S&D, IT)
  • Gina EBNER, Secretary General of the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) on “Outreach, Empowerment and Diversity” (OED)
  • Thomas HUDDLESTON, Programme Director Migration and Integration, Migration Policy Group, “A Clear Agenda for Migrant Education in Europe”
  • Giuseppina TUCCI, Board member of OBESSU, campaign “Education, we have a problem” – see the presentation

Group discussions


EUCIS-LLL Annual Conference report on the ET2020 Review is now available!

EUCIS annual conference europe 2020 reportLast June EUCIS-LLL, together with Learning for Well Being Consortium, organised a conference to reflect on what we want to achieve by 2020 and how to do it. Namely, evidence shows that much more attention should be paid to addressing inequalities in education and training and that is why we need a renewed political will to make lifelong learning a reality in Europe. The event gathered more than 60 participants from around Europe, representing various sectors and actors of learning. After a dynamic introductory session to the policy framework, participants were invited to take part in small group discussions to formulate policy recommendations. This report is a summary of the discussions and presentations made. The results of the discussions were involved in the debate linked to the next cycle of ET2020 (2015-2017), the midterm review (2015-2020) and the Europe 2020 Review. See EUCIS-LLL position on the ET2020 Review.

EUCIS-LLL round table on ‘Efficient and equitable funding of education: A target beyond reach?’


Tue 9 December, 15:00-18:00 // European Economic and Social Committee, Citizens’ Auditorium (Room REM-1), Rue Belliard 93, Brussels 

There has been a growing support for long-term investment in education and training from the EU, stakeholders and citizens. However, although our socio-economic models rely heavily on quality education, budgets are shrinking in most EU Member States. There is a clear lack of coherence between the call for sustainable investment in growth-friendly areas, such as education, and the call for austerity measures, which damages them. The EU shall address this contradiction within the European Semester. How to bridge EU recommendations and national policies? How to find a balance between efficiency and equity in investing in education? Providing quality education for all is a responsibility of public authorities, but what about the cost-sharing challenge? What should new performance-based funding models look like? What about the important side policies like childcare service and student support?

We are happy to invite you to our Round Table on ‘Efficient and equitable funding of education: A target beyond reach?’ during the Lifelong Learning Week 2014. By gathering European institutions and civil society representatives and researchers, the policy debate will aim at finding some of the answers in order to have a more sustainable funding of our education and training systems.

The event is organised by the European Civil Society Platform on Lifelong Learning (EUCIS-LLL), with the support of MEP Jill Evans (Greens/EFA, UK).


15:00 Welcome words

  • Jill EVANS, Member of the European Parliament (Greens/EFA, UK)
  • Pavel TRANTINA, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (Group III)
  • Etelberto COSTA, EUCIS-LLL Vice-president

15:30 Panel discussion “Efficiency and equity: Where and how to invest?”

  • Elisabeth GEHRKE, Chairperson, European Students’ Union (ESU)
  • Ides NICAISE, Professor at KU Leuven, Member of the NESSE network of experts
  • Torsten ARNDT, policy officer in unit A1 “Education and training in Europe 2020 governance)”, European Commission, DG EAC

Interaction with the audience

16:20 Coffee break

16:40 Panel discussion “How to make sure education is considered as investment?”

  • Ragnar WEILANDT, European Citizens’ Initiative “Invest in education”
  • Paola CAMMILLI, Programme Officer, ETUCE, Education International
  • Stefan JAHNKE, President of Erasmus Student Network (ESN)

Interaction with the audience

17:30 Conclusions

18:00 End