European Union policies in education and training: the Lisbon agenda as a turning point?
This paper investigates European Union (EU) education and training policies in the light of the evolving Lisbon agenda on improving the competitiveness of the EU. It examines the ways in which EU policies have developed over time, focusing on their legal basis, underlying principles, main forms of implementation and their impact on national education and training systems. The paper argues that, in the wake of the Lisbon agenda, the legal basis for EU activities has been substantially extended by intergovernmental agreements. The discourse on the concept of economic competitiveness has changed the formulation of new EU policies in education and training, exemplified by a strong emphasis on educational indicators, benchmarks and quality controls. This has resulted in a new wave of EU initiatives in the field, sometimes updating or recycling activities that had not been successful in the past. The slow progress regarding the Lisbon goals for education and training seems to indicate, however, that the impact of EU programmes and projects for educational provisions in the Member States remains limited.
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