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Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou: "My priorities"

The article is provided by Commissionner Vasiliou's spokesperson through the European Commission Representation in Bulgaria. A translation of the text is available on the Bulgarian-language version of this website.

My main priorities as Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth will concentrate on those areas where we can make a difference in peoples' lives: education and training are vital, especially in the context of the crisis, but also as key drivers of the Commission's 'Europe 2020' strategy for a competitive, green and sustainable economy.

My priorities also build on the broad political guidelines set out for this Commission by President José Manuel Barroso. They can be summarised as follows:    

  • To enhance skills and widen access to education and training, focusing on market needs;
  • To increase mobility and opportunities for young people;
  • To create an environment that nurtures culture and creativity for every individual and society as a whole.


If Europe is to compete in the world economy, we must unlock excellence in education, research and innovation. To equip our young people for the modern jobs market, we need to increase the quality of education from the earliest age. Strengthening teacher training is vital, since good teachers are still the number one factor in a child's success in life.

Increasing quality means we will also enhance the intrinsic value of education for pupils.

The benefits of the new economy must be shared more equally if we are to move to a smarter, greener, knowledge society. In particular, this means actively helping the:

  • One in six young people who leave school early;
  • One in five 15-year-olds with poor reading skills;
  • 80 million people who are trying to survive with only low or basic skills.

I will encourage policies to reduce early school leaving and make proposals to strengthen benchmarking to drive better policies on employability, mobility and multilingualism.

Higher education is also absolutely vital in raising skill levels. Despite the real progress made in improving our universities through the 'Bologna Process' reforms, not many of our universities match the best in the world. We must do more to ensure they do.

I intend to draw on the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, the Marie Curie actions (supporting mobility of researchers) and Erasmus programme (promoting the mobility of students and academics) to energise and modernise higher education and build Europe's global attractiveness for study and research.

Our ambition is to help the European Institute of Innovation and Technology become a flagship for Europe's knowledge-based future. The Marie Curie actions will reinforce our efforts to bring together the European Areas of Higher Education and Research so that knowledge, and the researchers, students and staff who generate it, flow freely across borders. This will help us develop transnational excellence in research and education and transform them into innovation.

The Erasmus programme has proved to be a success, but I want to do more to promote it. We are still some way from our target of 3 million Erasmus students by 2012 and the rate of participation is actually decreasing in a third of the countries involved. More mobility will only be possible if funding and the quality of the programme is increased.   

Erasmus Mundus, which supports EU and international academic mobility, has become a flagship for integration and bridge-building between peoples and cultures in all parts of the world. I will also promote it far and wide to enhance the global visibility of EU higher education.

To implement my plans in the educational field, I will work closely with the Member States, mapping out common approaches to shared challenges, based on best practice and benchmarking. I will also push for more resources at European level to strengthen our actions.

As our programmes show, learning mobility is extremely effective in enhancing skills and employability and opening people's minds to other cultures. My aim is to set out a future framework for 'Youth on the Move' this summer (2010) and propose a programme for it as soon as possible. This will make a decisive contribution to cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and multilingual learning.


In the area of culture, I will work towards creating an environment where creativity, innovation and cultural expression can flourish, drawing on our cultural and linguistic wealth and on the proven capacity of our creative industries (which alone account for 2.6% of Europe's GDP) to spur innovation and growth. A Green Paper in 2010 will help us identify the European and national actions which will allow our culture and creativity to flourish further.

I will present a proposal for a European heritage label in the coming months. The label will celebrate and give visibility to heritage sites that epitomize European ideals. The aim is to strengthen support for a shared European identity and to foster a sense of belonging to our common cultural space.

The MEDIA programme, which co-finances the development and distribution of European films and training activities, helps us to showcase European culture around the world. I intend to make use of all the opportunities it offers and to build on a long history of European commitment in this sector.

The added value and challenge for Community action is to translate European cultural diversity into a world-beating competitive industry, contributing to European economic growth and employment. I intend to pay particular attention to the impact of digital technologies on cinema.

The 2005 UNESCO Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions gives us a strong legal footing in this area, and the Commission has already made good progress in mainstreaming cultural priorities into other policies. I want to do more, including on copyright, to ensure a balance between widening access to culture and remunerating artists fairly, which is vital for cultural diversity. I intend to work closely with my fellow commissioners on the new digital agenda that achieves that balance.


Multilingualism and language learning are the passport to a larger world of opportunity and help in opening people's minds to the different cultures and history which are an integral part of Europe's wealth. Europe has 23 'official' languages and 60 regional or minority languages that are also an important part of Europe's heritage. We respect them all and we should support them all.

One of my key tasks will be to promote language learning from a young age. Our objective is for every EU citizen to be able to speak at least two foreign languages in addition to their mother tongue.  Knowledge of languages will improve job prospects, communication and understanding, both inside Europe and beyond.


Sport may not be in my job title but it comes under my responsibility and I consider it an important part of my portfolio. I want to explore how to take full advantage of the new Treaty competences regarding sport. The importance of sport in terms of education, training, social integration and health is immense. It also has an important economic impact. I will work closely with professional and amateur organisations to ensure that we promote fair play and the fight against doping, protect young sportspeople and work to combat racism and violence.

I am also very keen to promote grassroots sport and amateur sport for all, starting from pre-school because that is where a healthy lifestyle begins, and continuing throughout our life to old age because we want our elderly to remain fit and active.

I am very conscious that Europeans attach major importance to the issues that fall under my portfolio. Indeed, many of us hold passionate views about education, culture, multilingualism, youth and sport. I am no exception!

That's why I am committed to listening carefully to all relevant stakeholders at an early stage of policy shaping: doing so will contribute to more representative, more credible and more concrete results, ultimately helping to bring Europe and its citizens closer.

If you want to air your views on my priorities, do get in touch! You can contact my office directly at

For press and media inquiries, please contact my spokesperson:

Androulla Vassiliou (Cyprus - ELDR)
Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth


More on the topic: Europe 2020 from the prospective of EP's Commission on Culture and Education Chairwoman Doris Pack (Germany, EPP). Mrs. Pack was special guest of the international conference "Europe 2020 - Civic Visions", held in Sofia in January 2010 and organized by the European Institute.  

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