All posts by Maria Arguedas

Civil Society State of the Union 2023 report is officially out!

On Wednesday 6th September 2023, in light of the European Commission President’s upcoming State of the Union address, Civil Society Europe (CSE) launched its Civil Society State of the Union report (CS SOTEU) in Brussels and online. 

The report presents civil society’s vision and recommendations for a more democratic and socially and environmentally just EU and it is the result of 7 months of collaboration among nearly 50 civil society organisations (CSOs) specialised in a range of different sectors.

The report tackles topics from democracy, fundamental rights, civic space, the EU’s external policies, migration and asylum, freedom of movement, social rights and justice, climate change and other environmental challenges, digital transformation, and human security.

Read the report below!

Erasmus Careers – Join the training “Roadmap of the International Student Lifecycle”

The Erasmus Careers consortium is glad to announce the organisation of the staff training titled “Roadmap of the International Student Lifecycle”, taking place from the 22nd to the 24th of November at the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM). The training is targeted at higher education staff working with international students with the aim to increase their understanding of the international student lifecycle by providing practical exercises based on theory and good practices. The goal is to better understand the international student journey, with a particular focus on their needs as well as how to adequately support them.

The participation fee is 50 euros and it includes coffee breaks, the welcome cocktail, one dinner, and two lunches. Participants’ travel and accommodation costs are not covered.

Find out the agenda and apply by the 30th of September through the following link. The maximum number of participants is 25. Participation will be confirmed after the selection process with an email from the UAM team. Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the training’s organisers at in case of questions.

Collaborative Monitoring of regional lifelong learning policies Results of the COMORELP project

After 3 years of work the partnership between the Jagiellonian University (Poland), the Malopolska Regional Labour Officer (Poland), Boğaziçi University (Türkiye), CIS (Italy), ARCOLA Research (UK), FREREF (France) and LLLP (Belgium) is coming to an end and are ready to share the various results obtained throughout the project duration. 

Regional reports and the COMORELP benchmarking tool

The new project website, hosted by the Jagiellonian University, features the different publications developed by the partnership as well as the practical tool for inter-regional comparison and learning or ‘COMORELP benchmarking tool’.  One of these publications is the Distance and Online Learning report was developed jointly by all regional partners to explore the dimensions of the rapid global transition to distance and online learning during the pandemic, an extraordinary evolution in our education systems. The report derives essential conclusions from participating European regions: Malopolska (Poland), Emilia-Romagna (Italy), Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (France), Wales (UK) and Istanbul (Türkiye). The report presents insights that underscore the need for targeted interventions and puts forth recommendations to harness the potential of digital lifelong learning while mitigating challenges. You can download the report here.

The Regional reports explore in depth the state of play in the participating European regions acting as a compendium of regional LLL policies, and especially the innovative changes made recently and the trends for the future. The regional reports were fed by the work of each partner in the regions including  meeting with stakeholders, the Round Tables and the implementation of the self-assessment methodology making use of the COMORELP benchmarking tool. This tool can also be found in the project’s website and it is currently available in English and Polish. The self-assessment tool aims to support policy makers and stakeholders to determine the current stage of development of lifelong learning policies in their own region. By engaging with stakeholders and organising regional roundtable discussions, regional LLL laboratories can be established. In the COMORELP project the approach to benchmarking does not have a competitive sense: benchmarking primarily serves as an opportunity for mutual learning, sharing best practices, and inspiring one another through comparisons between regions. You can download the reports and explore the tool in the new project’s website.

How to implement the self-assessment and benchmarking process? Stay tuned for the COMORELP guidelines and policy recommendations

As stated previously, a key aspect of the COMORELP project is the mutual learning among different European regions. In this line, a General report will be published containing elements of comparative analysis among the different regions that took part in the project, drawing from the Regional reports

Another upcoming publication is the Guidebook to implement the process of self-evaluation of regional lifelong learning policy. This document aims to be a practical guide to creating regional LLL laboratories developed based on the COMORELP project experiences. Based on these experiences, tips and recommendations are presented to  inspire and help policy makers and stakeholders across Europe to conduct the self-assessment process of LLL policies in their own regions. 

Finally, the Policy Recommendations Report exploits the lessons learnt throughout the COMORELP project, both in terms of lifelong learning policies shortcomings and improvement opportunities, and in terms of measures suggested to base future regional lifelong learning policies on better access to evidence and participatory monitoring of results. The Recommendations are the result of interaction within the regional Policy Labs that took place in 5 European regions in the first project phase, and of the EU policy labs events that took place later and that aimed to connect regional stakeholders at EU level. The EU policy labs took place during LLLP’s Lifelong Learning week 2022 in Brussels,  online in March 2023 and the Final Conference in May 2023. 

Stay tuned next month for all the latest publications in the new COMORELP project website, the COMORELP LLL-Hub website and our social media channels.

Inter-regional cooperation for better lifelong learning policies Conference Report

COMORELP’s final conference, organised by the Lifelong Learning Platform, took place on May 10 and brought together over 100 participants from across Europe joining us online and in person in Brussels.  The conference highlighted the challenges to and needs of, involving regional and local stakeholders in design, monitoring, implementation, and evaluation of lifelong learning (LLL) policies, all the while offering insight into the EU’s initiatives towards regional cooperation in national and European LLL policies. 

How are European regions working together? How is the European Union working with regions?

In the first panel discussion, the main obstacles to regional cooperation were mentioned such as: little communication and cooperation among regions; difficulties finding a common thread and point of interest among regions as well as inadequate funding. To tackle regional obstacles to cooperation, Dr. Pat Carrington (HOLEX) suggested that regional LLL policies should broaden their scope to include policies for learners of all ages, hence for early childhood; childhood; youth; adults and seniors too. In addition, Pere Rotxés Peláez (SOC) raised the issue of language barriers. Given inter and intra-regional language barriers, not only do regions need to collaborate more among one another – they also need to find alternative and innovative communication pathways. 

All panellists agreed that for effective interregional cooperation on LLL policies to happen, more funding and a centralised repository through which regions can communicate, are needed. Finally, Tina Mavrič (EAEA) argued that the digital world deletes physical borders and provides unprecedented opportunities for cross-regional learning. Therefore, online resources could be an innovative means for interregional cooperation. The discussion closed with a remark on the green and the digital skills: two potential topics for regions to tackle collaboratively. Comparing and contrasting which regions are better off in digital and green skills and practices can, in fact, be a topic on which to invest more, as it benefits all regions unanimously.

The COMORELP conference portrayed some of the instruments the EU put in place for regional cooperation. Pauline Boivin (LLLP) highlighted some of them including: the EU’s Smart Specialisation Platform; Cohesion Policy and Interreg Europe. Luc Schmerber Interreg Europe) presented the Interreg Policy Learning Platform focused on supporting innovative and sustainable solutions to regional development challenges. On the same note, Miguel Fernández Díez (DG EMPL) commented on the Pact for Skills, an initiative under the European Skills Agenda which opened up to the regional dimension with the aim to mobilise local and regional stakeholders to promote a culture of lifelong learning for all, build strong skill partnerships, monitor skill supply/demand and anticipate skill needs as well as work against discrimination and for gender equality and equal opportunities. A key point discussed throughout the conference was the need for regional LLL policies to look at individual needs, both at regional needs as well as individual learner’s needs. Indeed, regions know better what their own needs are. Hence, excluding regional authorities and stakeholders in designing and implementing LLL policies fails to create effective policies that tackle the specificities of regional cases in Europe as underlined by Dr. Gabriele Marzano (Regione Emilia-Romagna). 

A new way of benchmarking? From competition to cooperation

The conference shed light on one of COMORELP’s initiatives as a project: the COMORELP benchmarking tool for inter regional comparison and learning. The tool was first introduced by some of the Comorelp project partners, namely,  Claudio Dondi (CIS School for business management), and later presented more in depth by Magdalena Tarnowska-Torbus (Regional Labour office in Krakow) and Wojciech Kubica (Jagiellonian University). 

The tool is a self-assessment questionnaire about the regional state of play of lifelong learning policies. The process will enable policy makers and stakeholders to build a comprehensive picture of the lifelong learning activities and policies in your region. In the COMORELP project the approach to benchmarking does not have a competitive sense: benchmarking primarily serves as an opportunity for mutual learning, sharing best practices, and inspiring one another through comparisons between regions.

What are the recommendations for policy makers and stakeholders at European and regional level?

Pauline Boivin (LLLP) elaborated on COMORELP’s policy recommendations. To ensure EU policies on LLL involve more regional stakeholders, Member States should have a say on such policies; innovation and regional policies should be more linked to skills and LLL policies; and regions should be more involved in the opportunities offered by such EU initiatives. As the COMORELP policy recommendations propose, regional authorities can be involved in peer reviews where their own policies are compared; regions can be involved in the European Year of Skills and national skills strategies; and inter-regional and regional policy labs on LLL policies can be organised.

Recommendations were also drawn from the three interactive workshops addressing three main questions: 

  1. What is missing in lifelong learning policies at regional level?; 
  2. How can we increase participation in lifelong learning?; 
  3. What would make EU cooperation more attractive in your region? 

Regarding the first question: LLL policies at regional levels do not have sufficient funding, time and human resources. In addition, the idea of lifelong learning itself has to be made more real, by involving all actors and stakeholders – from formal, non-formal and informal learning as well as across all ages – in LLL policies and initiatives. In terms of increasing participation in LLL, achieving this increase calls for a cultural shift from an economic-based thinking and approach, to a more learner-centred one; for more motivated and engaged key actors; funding; and accessible and visible lifelong learning opportunities. Lastly, COMORELP offered to the stakeholders involved in the past 30 months (in the Labs) the possibility for regions to share practices, and strengthen the monitoring system of LLL policies. However, to make EU cooperation more attractive regionally, there is a need to highlight the perks of cooperating in EU initiatives; celebrate regional, national, and European achievements; and find common values for regional cooperation. 

Highlights of the LLLAB 2023: Key competences for the future of Europe

In its third edition, the Lifelong Learning Lab (LLLAB) is the Lifelong Learning Platform’s initiative to bring together stakeholders in education and training from EU and national/regional level to share good practices on enhancing cooperation in the sector. Participants to the LLLAB counted policymakers from EU, national, regional and local level, educators and teachers, learners, education and training institutions (schools, universities, VET centres) and civil society organisations. 

In 2023, the LLLAB was organised in Girona, anticipating the Spanish Presidency to the Council of the EU and was hosted by the Municipality and University of Girona. This year the LLLAB revolved around the topic of “Key competences for the future of Europe” under LLLP’s Annual Theme Key competences for all: a lifelong learning approach to skills” within the European Year of Skills

The LLLAB occurred over two days, connecting European issues with national issues, supporting EU citizens’ capacity to engage in policymaking, breaking silos within education and training institutions, and building blocks for the development of national lifelong learning platforms.

Day 1: European agenda and decision-making processes in education and training

Before exploring links between the EU and the national context, participants were welcomed at the premises of the Girona Municipal Employment Office for a Study Visit. The first day connected large scale EU initiatives to the context in Spain through plenary sessions that included the interventions of Dr. Josep Calbó, Vice-Rector for Strategic Projects and Internationalisation, University of Girona, Stefan Olsson, Deputy Director-General at European Commission’s DG EMPL, an introduction to stakeholders involvement in the European Education Area midterm review, an exchange of views between policy makers and CSOs, a keynote speech by The Good Lobby. 

Also participants were able to exchange practices through the labs -workshops- which looked at different topics related to education and training at EU level.  The labs were the space where participants discussed challenges faced in the field and co-created solutions.

Day 2: Achieving the Spanish lifelong learning agenda

The second day started with a Keynote Address delivered by LLLP’s Project and Policy Manager, Pauline Boivin, who spearheads the work on national lifelong learning strategies. It also included an exchange of views between policy makers and Civil Society Organisations focused on the Spanish agenda in education and training and the role of education stakeholders and civil society. 

The second day followed the same model in terms of the implementation of labs – workshops – though they were focused now on the national level, as opposed to the European level. After a rich 60-minute discussion, participants gathered back in plenary to share the outcomes. 

From Girona to Europe

Giuseppina Tucci, former President of LLLP closed the LLLAB discussing the need to mainstream lifelong learning, promoting the vision that LLLP has been advocating for almost 20 years. A true change can only be achieved with meaningful participation from  civil society. Giuseppina insisted that any participation from civil society requires adequate funding for it and a consistent push to make sure that political changes do not weaken the lifelong learning system or policy co-creation.


Review and download the presentations shared during the LLLAB here


Read the full Report of the LLAB here

LLLP Reaction: European Semester 2023 Spring Package

On 24 May, the European Commission published its European Semester Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) and Country Reports (CRs), known as the ‘Spring Package’. LLLP reacts to the prioritisation of labour market-focused skills development at the expense of the broader lifelong learning process. Considering that in 2023, the EU fiscal framework and the European Semester are subjected to reform, LLLPlatform proposes a set of actions to address the shortcomings identified in our Reaction.

  • LLLPlatform urges for the flexibilisation of rules to exclude investment in essential public services, such as education and training, from the calculation of debts and deficits. Without encouragement into long-term reforming of the lifelong learning system, Member States cannot dedicate adequate resources to create a path for proactive reforming rather than reactive crisis management.

  • LLLPlatform calls for a Semester that better collects data on Member States, with the involvement of civil society as is defined by the process’ regulations. Without meaningful data, collected from all stakeholders and all participants in the learning system, no reform will be tailored to learners’ contextual needs.

  • LLLPlatform demands that the European Commission develops a specific chapter on lifelong learning in the Spring Package and in the CRs, with concrete indicators for its different sectors to be developed in coordination with the relevant stakeholders, in order to propose CSRs that encompass a reform of the whole lifelong learning system, and not only isolated parts in the journey of the learner.

Read our full reaction here

LLLP has a new President and four new Steering Committee members!

The Lifelong Learning Platform’s General Assembly (GA) for 2023 took place at the University of Girona in Spain on 27 and 28 June. 

The annual General Assembly is one of the key moments where the members, the Secretariat and the Steering Committee meet and update each other on their activities and collectively discuss the general direction and priorities of the organisation.

Main highlights of the General Assembly

As outlined in LLLP’s statutes and internal rules, the rotation system entails that three members of the Steering Committee were due to end their mandate this year; therefore the GA was tasked with electing these new representatives alongside a new President.

LLLP’s membership welcomed Elisa Gambardella (SOLIDAR Foundation) as the new President, Caridad Alarcón Sánchez (OBESSU), Matteo Vespa (European Students’ Union), the re-election of Jon Harding (EfVET) and Piotr Sadowski (Volonteurope) as new representatives of the Steering Committee. 

We take this opportunity to thank the outgoing members for their commitment and dedication Tamara Gojkovic (YEU), Martina Darmanin (ESU), and Giuseppina Tucci (OBESSU). 

In addition to the election of new representatives, the GA approved  the candidacy of Eurochild, and the Federation for European Education (FEDE) to become members of LLLP, which makes the network grow even stronger and diverse.

The General Assembly offered members an opportunity to voice their opinion on how and in which ways LLLP can improve as a representative organisation through the discussion of this year’s Membership Survey and a new Advocacy Strategy to strengthen collaboration among the membership and with external stakeholders. We are ready to deploy all our resources to face the upcoming transition year between the European Year of Skills and the EU Parliament Elections. 

This year’s GA was a statement on LLLP’s commitment to keep advocating for a lifelong learning approach to education through the active participation of its members, and by showcasing their diversity and voices. 

Get ready for the 2024 European Parliament elections with COYV’s Online Crash Course

The COYV project seeks to encourage youth multipliers, young people, and especially first time-voters, to actively take part in voting for the European Elections 2024. By organising trainings geared towards increasing youth voting participation rates, and developing an informal alliance of youth organisations, the project seeks to create a link between European initiatives, European civic education and voting. 

These online courses are part of the activities of the project ‘Co-operation Youth vote: Enabling future active European citizens’, with the aim to offer a space for training in the preparation of the 2024 European Parliament election campaigns. Within its activities for capacity building and training, COYV partners have developed two online courses that are framed in: European Civic Education and Communication and Online dissemination.

What will you get from this experience?

from the Online Crash Course 1 – European Civic Education – debate for the future of Europe! Register here:  Join the first Online Crash Course – Youth Vote

  • You will strengthen tools and skills in European Civic education;
  • You will strengthen skills, capacities and tools for the debate in relation to the European Union, its impact on daily life and the upcoming European Parliament elections;
  • You will gain tools to carry out events and processes to attract, train and guide young people, particularly early voters and young people who have refrained from participating in other electoral processes or young people who still feel insecure about participating

from the Online Crash Course 2 – Build your own digital campaign
Register here:  Summer Training – Create your own Digital Campaign!

  • Get an overview of the online platforms and the logic behind running digital campaigns from the perspective of young people and youth organisations, 
  • Find out how to navigate the given opportunities and collect first ideas and creative, funny, interesting examples that we can learn from,
  • Take the first steps towards successfully communicating, disseminating and leading digital campaigns on your own in connection to the European elections in 2024

All participants will receive a Youth Pass certificate.

Register now!

Applications will be open until the maximum number of participants is reached. When you register you will be notified by email to which group you were assigned and the access link to the session.

Final Conference – Inclusion in Action: a holistic approach to inclusion

The INSCOOL II project’s final conference, held in Brussels on May 17, opened with setting a common definition and understanding of ‘inclusion’ in education. The British Council (Poland) – the project coordinator – outlined that inclusion is about welcoming and supporting the participation of learners in all their diversity and exceptionalities. Inclusion in education is a deep and complicated matter – an ongoing process which requires everyone’s dedication and active collaboration.

The conference’s keynote speaker – Dr. Chandrika Devarakonda – delved deeper into the essence of inclusion by touching upon the concept of invisible diversity. As the project’s face to face courses and MOOC similarly try to capture, diversity is engrained well beyond what meets the eye. Every individual is diverse precisely because they are ‘individual’. Inclusion is relevant to all societies, in all contexts, and is a precondition for a thriving society, as where there is no inclusion there are no healthy individuals. Dr. Devarakonda closed her speech by raising the following thought-provoking questions, inviting participants to continue the reflection beyond the conference: what is the difference between including everyone and not excluding anyone? Do we see inclusion and diversity as a barrier or as an enabler?

Essentially, to improve inclusion within schools there is a need for defined strategies for implementation, as well as more funding – which must be used effectively. These strategies must be co-developed with the diversity of students as well as educators bodies and through national discussions. These processes can support the development of common definitions of inclusion in education. 

Anna Maria Giannopoulou – Directorate General for Education –  mentioned the lack, and consequent need for, implementation of inclusive strategies. Panagiotis Chatzimichail – Organising Bureau of School Student Unions – agreed on the gaps in implementation, and added a second need: funding, and, more specifically, targeted funding. Indeed, while policies are proposed, the implementation of such policies fail to materialise oftentimes because of inadequate funding. However, where there is funding, key contributors to inclusive school environments, such as having a safe and comfortable learning space, are overlooked. Hence, to promote inclusive education together with the co-creation of policies with the main stakeholders, there needs to be more – and especially – targeted funding underpinned by effective policy implementation

Another key point raised during the fishbowl discussion was the diversity not only among the student body, but among the teacher body, too. Ekaterina Efimenko – European Trade Union Committee for Education – highlighted how, at the policy level, having different backgrounds must be understood as an advantage, not as a barrier. Only once this mindshift happens, can inclusion truly take place in the school setting. Anders Lindholm – Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union – added to the discussion the need for country-by-country needs analysis. Given every country differs from another, countries should individually assess where the investment is most needed to support inclusive education, taking also into account differences within countries and their regions. Lastly, as Sogol Noorani – EURYDICE – pointed out, inclusion must be looked at through a bigger lens: national policies must address intersectionality and look at specific needs. Not only do we need to establish a common understanding of the term ‘Special Educational Needs’ (SEN); we also need to look beyond ‘SEN’ and have inclusive education policies that target everyone, including minorities which are rarely acknowledged in national policies.

The conference’s workshops focused on three main areas for inclusive education: (1) policies supporting inclusion; (2) online training support; and (3) training needs of teachers and school educators. Policies and strategies need to address teachers’ needs on training, as well as provide flexibility, including time and space to work with the curriculum. A fundamental aspect not to overlook is teacher well-being, support, and financial recognition, including for training and extra working hours. For the online support, the INSCOOL II’s MOOC was highlighted, and questions and answers on how it worked were held. It was concluded that the MOOC is a useful tool for teachers and the whole educational staff to improve their approaches to and methodologies on inclusive education, and develop new ones. Lastly, in the third workshop, an important training need for teachers emerged: how to comprehend the diversity of student bodies and truly accommodate their students’ needs. Teachers and educational staff need to be supported, and the school and overall community should work as a whole, to advocate for and implement inclusive education. 

The INSCOOL II conference was an important moment where open discussions were encouraged and key points were raised pertaining to the definition of inclusion and policy actions to take for inclusive education. The bottom line is that every student should have access to quality education, and that an education which fails to be inclusive is a low quality one. Everyone’s efforts are needed for this to happen. Indeed, the INSCOOL II project advocates for a Whole-School Approach, where inclusive education is the responsibility of the whole (school) community.

Help us build a Community of Practice of student teachers, teachers, school heads who want to see more inclusive practices within the school education, by joining the Facebook page, and enrolling in the MOOC.

The INSCOOL II project journey does not stop here. Stay in tune with the project’s website to have a read through the policy recommendations, coming out in a month!

EUROCLIO and the House of European History – Writing History

Thanks to a standing partnership with EuroClio, the House of European History held a training workshop on 13-14 May, where LLLP representatives got to attend to grasp the basics of communicating about our shared history. Beside a plethora of learning materials, the workshop focused on the role of teachers in building a common identity, especially through non-formal and informal learning methodologies. 

From a dental clinic to the House of European History: How to tell the story/stories of Europe

A grand visual display of the Fables de la Fontaine was meant to calm the children that were waiting for a dental appointment at the Eastman building during the 1930s. Nowadays, the former dental clinic serves as the House of European History, an initiative from the European Parliament that opened its doors to the public in 2017.

The House of European History aims to create an experience for the visitor about the complexity of European history taking into account three important aspects: memory, multiperspectivity and integration. The process of selection of what’s included in the permanent exhibition responds to those three aspects intertwined with what is relevant from the history of Europe in the present, how certain episodes from the history of different European countries have shaped what is happening today.

The tour through the six floors of the house is a learning and storytelling experience on its own: from personal objects like diaries, coats and a mustard saucer to photographs, political posters and videos. The relationship between the personal and the social dimension is key to understanding how war, genocide, nationalism, etc. shaped different moments in time. 

Why do we need to learn about the EU? How does the meaning of the EU change across generations? 

These might seem trivial questions, but teachers and students have proven to be core actors of the European integration process. Throughout history, educating its citizens about the historic milestones that made the EU has been one of the most compelling tasks of the European Union. Today, the House of European History is delivering a huge learning offer, in Brussels and beyond, focusing on the permanent exhibition, EU integration, the learning material available for teachers on the HEH YouTube channel, the virtual tour, online teacher’s workshops and the future Digital toolbox. 

What’s next? 

New findings will be used to prepare the content of new educational material based on the needs and expectations of the teachers. For example, the editors will have the possibility to test a specific workshop on democracy and the history of European integration in light of the upcoming European elections. 

Most resources are (or will be) available on the website of the House of European History.