02 mei 2024

Neth-ER position paper European Education Area: Commit to Inclusion, Strategy and Cooperation

Dominique  Selier

Dominique Selier


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In a new position paper, Neth-ER advocates for an inclusive and strategic European Education Area (EEA). In light of the interim evaluation, Neth-ER provides recommendations on four key topics for the EEA: learning mobility, skills and talent development, mutual and automatic recognition and inclusive cooperation.

Neth-ER position paper European Education Area: Commit to Inclusion, Strategy and Cooperation

Committing to the EEA: inclusion, strategy, cooperation

The Dutch association Neth-ER stresses its appreciation and the importance of the European Education Area (EEA). Neth-ER is an association based in Brussels that represents eleven Dutch organizations involved in the field of education, research, and innovation. In this position paper, titled ‘Committing to the EEA: inclusion, strategy, cooperation’. Neth-ER provides recommendations on four key topics for the EEA, in light of the 2024 public consultation and upcoming evaluation. Simplification of procedures and programs is a prerequisite to achieve an inclusive EEA.  

Learning mobility 

Neth-ER advocates for inclusive and balanced learning mobility. To achieve this, funding should meet the ambitions in the new European framework for learning mobility, to achieve set targets in mobility, inclusion, and VET by 2030. We need clear insights into required investments to enhance EEA's long-term strategies. Neth-ER recommends the Commission to develop simple and clear policies and instruments to support member states in obtaining insights into mobility flows. Learning mobility is currently imbalanced in the higher education sector. However, in vocational education, these problems should be approached differently. Conducting research is necessary for clear and simple inclusion frameworks to improve inclusion measures for vulnerable groups on the ground. This also means including more diverse and blended forms of mobility opportunities and active promotion of projects such as ‘internationalisation@home’. Moreover, the EEA must enhance its long-term strategy to encourage greener mobility forms, through financial incentives and rewards systems.

European skills and talent development   

Neth-ER recommends the integration of the New Skills Agenda and lifelong learning as integral for European competitiveness and the green and digital transitions. The EEA should promote a human-centred approach to digital skills development, by involving teachers closely and by simplifying digital mobility tools such as the European Student Card Initiative (ESCI) in accordance with user needs. Neth-ER also recommends diffusing the GreenComp framework to its intended users to encourage its integration into curricula and teacher education. To support the twin transitions, the EEA must also invest in a European strategy for the development of STEAM skills (Sciences, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics), to directly tackle employment shortages, gender imbalances and foster innovation and research. Finally, a competence framework for European citizenship education would deeply enhance the knowledge about EU values and democratic citizenship into all education and training fields. The EEA should make knowledge and education a strategic tool to strengthen European competitiveness. Maintaining a strong research and knowledge infrastructure is essential for quality education.

Mutual and automatic recognition   

Neth-ER recommends institutions and member states to commit to recognition with existing initiatives. A prime example is the Treaty on Automatic Recognition between the Benelux and Baltic states. It should be a European target to enlarge the number of participants to at least half of the member states to be affiliated with the Treaty by 2030. While recognition policies should be streamlined, institutions must be able to determine their own participation. To foster quality education, Neth-ER asks for clarity between the EEA and the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). The streamlining of implementation for microcredentials would also improve recognition. Again, different starting points to integrate microcredentials must be acknowledged, considering the diversity of institutions which are active in the EEA. The EEA should also address professional recognition next to academic recognition, to respond to labor shortages. Hence, it is necessary to seek similarities in national VET systems and see potential in a VET multilateral agreement for recognition. Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) and Europass can be used as means to facilitate professional recognition, especially for green and digital transitions.

Inclusive cooperation 

Neth-ER believes that inclusive and strategic partnerships are key to transform the EEA and respond to societal challenges. It is important that all institutions will be able to participate in CoVE’s and the European Universities Initiative (EUI). Students should also receive opportunities to become more involved. To foster inclusive cooperation, the Commission should develop clear long-term visions for both initiatives and create multiplier effects of the outcomes of these partnerships to all institutions. It is important that institutions know what to expect and to prepare their strategies within these networks. Finally, Neth-ER advocates for an ecosystems approach to education to ensure inclusive cooperation with all stakeholders. An ecosystems approach is key to foster innovation and European competitiveness.


Neth-ER provides more extensive recommendations in its position paper. The position paper was prepared as a contribution to the public consultation of the Commission on the interim evaluation of the EEA. In 2020, Neth-ER published a position paper on the EEA, titled: ‘Learning Europe: the European Education Area’. This position paper builds on this previous paper. On May 13, 2024, Neth-ER, Nuffic, MBO Raad and VH organize the webinar: “What is the European Education Area and how to shape it?". Sign up to become informed about the EEA and the currently opened public consultation as a way to influence the EU's education agenda. FInd out how your organisation benefits from the EEA.