Crossing Borders: European Cooperation for success

Academic Paper 2013 78 Pages

Business economics - Economic Policy


Table of Content

List of Figures

List of Tables

Abbreviation Index

1 Introduction

2 Education & Training
2.1 Introduction and General Information
The Lisbon Strategy
The Bologna Process
2.2 Life-long learning Program 2007-2013

3 CENTRAL EUROPE – Cooperation for Success
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Goals and Direction
3.3 SoNorA – South North Axis

4 Conclusion and Outlook

List of References and Sources


List of Figures

Figure 1: Knowledge Triangle

Figure 2: Pisa reading literacy scale

Figure 3: Budget Evolution per Sub-program

Figure 4: CENTRAL EUROPE Program Area

Figure 5: Landscape and settlement structures, 2007

Figure 6: GDP per Capita 2007 (NUTS3)

Figure 7: 5 major trans-European transport axes

Figure 8: SOuth-NORth-Axis Project partner map

List of Tables

Table 1: Pisa survey, low reading skills

Table 2: Outgoing Erasmus Students Under the Life-long Learning Program 2007/08 2009/10

Table 3: Year by source for the program (in EUR)

Table 4: Priority axes by source of funding.

Abbreviation Index

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1 Introduction

The European Union has until now delivered peace, prosperity and stability for half a century. Economic cooperation has been on the first steps being fostered. As a result the conflicts among economically independent countries had been able to reduce. Nowadays the European Union is not anymore only a partnership of countries, but also a single market. Another result of the globalization relating to free movement of goods, services, people and capital is the risen standard of living.

With the aim of achieving one strong and competitive economic area the first aim has to be reaching one equal standard among all countries. This means to support and help disadvantaged countries to develop and reduce their deficits but also ensure sustainable growth without limiting the opportunities for future plans. One of the keys for successful and sound growth without restricting future possibilities is trans-national cooperation. In terms of competition the only aim is to be more productive and generate more added values. Within international cooperation every participant can benefit from knowledge or expertise exchange and learn more about cultural diversity.

Deficits can be seen in various areas from highly developed Information and Communication Technologies to basic supply as sufficient infrastructure networks e.g. roads or railroads. In order to reduce those deficits the European Union is supporting numerous programmes and projects in every possible field.

As one part of this thesis I will introduce the ‘Education and Training’ sector of the EU and give a general overview of the Lisbon Strategy and Bologna Process. The main part of the Education and Training programmed is the Life-long Learning Programme. Implemented in 2007 the structures, action plans and aims are responsible to lead Europe to a more connected future and an improved education and training system. Further the different areas of the LLP (Life-long Learning Programme) are explained which are ensuring that not only single parts of the system are promoted but every sector of the education and training system is facilitated.

As one part of this thesis I will introduce the ‘Education and Training’ sector of the EU and give a general overview of the Lisbon Strategy and Bologna Process. The main part of the Education and Training programme is the Life-long Learning Programme. Implemented in 2007 the structures, action plans and aims are responsible to lead Europe to a more connected future and an improved education and training system. Further the different areas of the LLP (Life-long Learning Programme) are explained which are ensuring that not only single parts of the system are promoted but every sector of the education and training system is facilitated.

In the end of the paper there is a conclusion about status and development of the highlighted areas and projects in the chapters before. Purpose of the thesis in general is to figure out if new member states, Central Europe countries supported by established program can catch up to the western countries of the European Union. In possible terms of an open answer to this question and still targeting a competitive economy, considerations may be necessary about alternative investments with higher benefits. As part of the elaboration a survey has been created, relating on the partially underdeveloped infrastructure and the decreasing population numbers in new member states. Results of this survey are included to allocate reasons for the negative development and are featured within the conclusion.

2 Education & Training

2.1 Introduction and General Information

“Education, training and youth play an essential role in a knowledge-based economy as they support growth and employment by encouraging the emergence of a highly qualified and adaptable population. They also strengthen social cohesion and active citizenship within the European Union.”[1]

This is the core statement of the European Union for education and training. To develop and improve the education and training area the European Council has set up an action and development plan. This plan is called the Lisbon Strategy and was set in Lisbon, Portugal in 2000. Since it was created and the aims were adopted the political cooperation in education and training became stronger. As an effect of a stronger cooperation it was possible agreeing on common targets. New work programme and a strategic framework for European cooperation could be set up. “Education and Training 2010” or “ET 2020” are two of these work programmes to “encompass all types of education and training and all stages in lifelong learning.”[2] Programmes as “Lifelong Learning Program” (2007-2013) or Erasmus Mundus (2009-2013) are only two of the funding supporter. But also agencies, other initiatives and a number of networks are supporting the actions in education and training. One of these initiatives e.g. is the Central European Initiative (CEI). By following the same goals as the programmes and action plans of the European Union the most important aim is to make Europe one strong single market and “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.”[3] Regardless to projects launched by the European Union to improve the general situation in the project area it is the most important to ensure a quality and sustainable education. Without education and training it is impossible to develop plans to improve and reduce the problems within the project area. Getting to know the general situation but also the specific needs of an area also belongs to a kind of learning and general education. Without this information it is also impossible to launch projects as the Central European Programme. Therefore it must be ensured that the education stays the most important part of developing Europe.

The Lisbon Strategy

The Agenda of this meeting builds the basement for all further decisions taken about the education and training including the Life-long Learning Program which emerged from the Lisbon Process. The purpose of the meeting was to strengthen the economy and implement some long-term measures to make Europe the most competitive economic area in the world. It was required to take action because the world is influenced by an increasing globalization which makes it necessary to set the pace in all economic areas looking at the aim of becoming the strongest economy. The increase of Information and Communication Technology is accelerating and is of high importance for a life-long learning in private or professional way. Prior to the Lisbon Process other meetings as the Cardiff-, Cologne-, and Luxemburg Agenda have been taken place and set a range of instruments and processes so it was not necessary to create new and it was decided to strengthen and improve the existing ones. As already mentioned the rapid technological change was defining one of the most important areas of action of the Lisbon Process and setting a key factor in accessibility. Aim was to make ICT (Information and Communication Technology) available for as many people as possible. The system would not want to leave anyone behind doesn´t matter which social category, race, religion or gender. By shifting to knowledge driven society the European Union needs to adjust to a more global world by setting policy directions and cooperation with all member states. The level of education plays an important role in this connected world and can be improved by creating networks among education and training institutions. As a result of a higher educational level the European Union becomes more competitive and a real entrepreneurship can develop. The Council of Lisbon is not setting up only action plans for growth and development in an economic way but also considering sustainable macroeconomic stability, promoting social integration, ensuring support for a knowledge society and also guaranteeing social stability in times of an ageing population.[4]

The next chapter will give an introduction to the Bologna Process and its contents.

The Bologna Process

Within the Bologna Process the cooperation between countries in the European Union should be increased. As the main concept of the Process it encourages countries to reform their higher education system without taking the responsibility from the nations or universities neither taking away cultural or linguistic diversity. The cooperation shell be increased by implementing a more transparent system which is comparable to other countries´. The first step of reaching a more transparent higher education system is to equalize the diploma supplement to Bachelor – Master – Doctorate. Therefore the whole education is set with two cycles; a first one oriented to the labour market and a second one in condition to the complete the first. Also the recognition of the lectures within the cycles has to be adapted to an equal standard. In use here is the ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) which is also used for the Erasmus program. In terms of quality education the Bologna Process aims at an increase of cooperation between the HEIs (Higher Education Institutions) and to promote mobility for students, teachers and researchers.[5] The key competences for setting a basement for educational development are highlighted in the following paragraph.

The Key competences

The Lisbon Strategy makes it clear that the society is shifting to a knowledge-driven economy. The pace of change is rapid and accelerating and makes it urgent to act now to harness the full benefits of the opportunities presented.[6] Therefore the European Union in cooperation with the European Council set a range of key competences within the “Education and Training 2010 work program”. Relating to the Lisbon agenda the focus point for growth and jobs is the area of education and training. The goal of setting up these key competences is to ensure that the member states are following the same direction and trying to reach similar long-term targets.[7]

After the economic downturn it is even more important to act effective and sustainable. Increasing pressure in public and private budget, loss of existing jobs and changing requirements for new jobs make it obligatory for education and training to be more open and respond to the needs of the people. Making the population better skilled for any upcoming challenges by being capable to deal with rapidly appearing changes, lead to the creation of a “knowledge-triangle”. Therefore Hungary expanded their investments in Research & Development between 2008 and 2009 by 12% up to 299.388.032 million Hungarian Forint (around 1.109.345,13 Euros). At the same time the number of employees was raising in this period of time regardless the employment of researchers, technical employees or supporting staff.[8]

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Figure 1: Knowledge Triangle

Although the Council endorsed a Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in Education and Training (ET 2009) it is still in responsibility of the member states to design their education system. With support of policy cooperation at European level it was possible to provide valuable support to countries´ educational reforms. In 2006 the Council for the first time set up a number of key competences. In the following three years these competences were implemented and benchmarking the Europeans average performance. The most important task about setting up indicators like the key competences is to evolve and emend lifelong learning strategies and any kind of education and training. The schooling has to be more specialized and relating to needs of the labour market, especially the vocational education and training (VET). Another problem is created by the downturn of the economy and the ignorance of how to respond on this alteration of requirements. “The progress in implementing a competence based approach, and the modernization of VET and higher education are key to Europe´s”[9] success.

As already mentioned the European Council set the so called key competences first in December 2006. They have been identical through the years. These are defined as eight competences to ensure “personal fulfilment, active citizenship, social inclusion and employability in a knowledge society.”[10] The key competences are:

- Communication in the mother tongue
- Communication in foreign languages
- Mathematical competence and basic competence in science and technology
- Digital competence
- Learning to learn
- Social and civic competences
- Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship and
- Cultural awareness and expression

It is not a requirement to bring all of these qualities. The idea behind the key competences is to develop those with assistance of initial education and training to ensure everybody is set up and ready for working and learning. Exactly this initial education is one of the vital benchmarks just because the level of literacy has deteriorated within the last years. Most of the targets set for 2010 have not been reached what underlines a pending reform. The reform has started and already made quality progress although there is still much to do. Some of the member states use the key competences as a “reference point” to support teachers´ competence development or update assessment methods but also to introduce new ways of organization for curricula. Some of the key competences are becoming more prominent and, thus, deserve more attention for developing. Relating to the basic problems in literacy the competences to highlight are identified and benchmarked all the time. Fields such as mathematics or science but also mother tongue and foreign languages are taken under closer look to deteriorate these deficits considerably. Since the PISA survey in 2006 many action plans for raising the basic skills in reading, maths and science have been launched.[11]

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Figure 2: Pisa reading literacy scale[12]

Schools have to be taken more into responsibility to prepare pupils for further learning than only teaching them those skills and procure basic knowledge. Learning to learn is surely the elemental skill to develop.

Rising attention must also be paid to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT). In times of globalization and networking computing skills become more important. These competences belong to those who are rising out of the change to a knowledge-based economy. Schools and other education facilities are in responsibility to adapt and embed these upcoming requirements into curricula. And again it is not only the sheer skills to be taught but also a critical thinking using new technologies as much as risk awareness and ethical and legal considerations.

Unfortunately many obstacles in developing new action plans and especially in implementing those plans can be found. The economic downturn is to mention as one of the external influences. It puts more pressure on to any area and as already mentioned it tightens up the private and public budget. But also fiscal policy or individual or demographic reasons can be found. Teacher mostly don´t have many incentives to improve their teaching. Most of the teachers prefer more professional development. Having a look on the demographic side shows debasement thru migration or in general people with disadvantaged background. They often have big gaps in basic education as reading, writing or math’s and science. Different ways in dealing with these problems can be seen among the member states. Some are clearly trying to include fringe groups with deficits into the education system while others going for a segregated solution. Within the European Union the number of people with special needs of education has a wide range between 0,01% and 5,5% among overall student numbers in compulsory education.[13]

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Table 1: Pisa survey, low reading skills[14]

As seen in the table the number of people with low reading skills is still too high, even the numbers are decreasing it takes more afford to reach an acceptable level. Countries as Hungary show constantly decreasing numbers of pupils since 2005 in initial education but also the number of teachers is steadily decreasing since 2005.[15] These are further problems to fight against increasing problems in the field of education and training.

In most of the countries special programmes emerge to avoid pupils falling behind by an early acquisition of basic skills.

While it is naturally teaching basic skills in schools and other education facilities the VET is more focused on competences than on general education. Nevertheless it becomes more important through the evolving labour market and societal needs. This means that the key competences are taking a bigger part of the curricula also for adult training and their trainer and teachers. Relating on VET participation in Hungary the numbers are rising between the period of 2005 to 2009 (162.030 up to 168.704). Unfortunately the numbers of people passing any VET exams is shrinking in the same period from around 40% to 30%.[16]

Programs as the “Life-long Learning Program” or Erasmus Mundus, launched by the European Union, are aiming to improve the educational and vocational training situation in Europe to reach an overall standardised level. Further information about these programs is following in the next chapters.

2.2 Life-long learning Program 2007-2013

The life-long learning program is a program established by the European Union in 2006 after the decision No 1720/2006/EC from the European Parliament and is running from 2007-2013. 31 countries are participating in this program which aims for transnational learning mobility and to modernize education systems with cooperation projects.[17] It comprises all programs from the European Union regarding life-long learning. Former programs are Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, eLearning and Jean Monnet Program. All of these programs were running from 2000-2006. Now the programs are summed in a single project to reach higher transparency and visibility in cooperation. It simplifies and increases every interaction by having one coherent strategy.[18] Since the adoption of the Lisbon Strategy in 2000 the focus is put more and more on education and growth, this program shell help to achieve the objectives also looking at the area for higher education decided in the Bologna Process. Already in the first three years of the program transnational education projects as well as training activities in 31 countries have been financed by using 3 billion Euros.[19] The society is shifting to a knowledge-driven economy and the most valuable assets are a high-quality education and training system including a life-long learning plan. Such a plan is formulated and the idea is to provide personal development for everybody as well as integration but also to participate in this knowledge economy. Goal number one in this plan is to facilitate a successful transition of the community exactly to this knowledge-driven society to reach sustainable development and a greater cohesion. The initial strategies and decisions were taken in 2000 within the Lisbon European Council. The European Union should become the most competitive and dynamic economy in the world. Therefore it is important to target week areas, develop strategies and promote sustainable growth from the beginning. Regarding to the EU legislation objectives of the LLP 2007-2013 are aimed to reduce borders for free movement of people, goods, services and money. Some other objectives are:

- Increasing attractiveness and accessibility for LLP opportunities
- Promoting creativity, competitiveness and employability
- Support ICT development and
- Reinforce a thinking of European citizenship by relating on mutual values (e.g. tolerance, respect)

Although the focus is put on becoming the strongest economic region there are also other aims for the program. Within following the main goal attention is also constantly put on reaching equality between men and women. There are still huge differences in the treatment and payment of men and women, reducing these differences is another side-goal of the project. Other problems showing up are xenophobia or racism as well as prejudices. All these problems need to be combated. With a project budget of 6,970 billion Euros the Life-long Learning Program is able to support and facilitate international and national but also regional and local projects.[20] Coming back to the structure of the LLP program it is divided into six sectorial sub-programs to ensure, that people at all age and education level can take part and improve their own skills.[21]

The Comenius program builds the first part of the LLP by focusing on pre-school and school education up to the higher secondary school level. Addressing pupils, teachers, public authorities, educational staff, universities, parents´ organizations but also teacher training institutes definitely shows the relevance for everybody in the education community. Objectives are clearly defined by “developing understanding and appreciation among young people and educational staff of the diversity of European cultures”[22] and “helping young people acquire the basic life-skills and competences necessary for their personal development, for future employment and for active European citizenship.”[23] Other priorities are:

Motivation for learning and learning-to-learn skills

- Key competences: improving language learning; greater literacy; making science more attractive; supporting entrepreneurship; and reinforcing creativity and innovation
- Digital educational content and services
- School management
- Addressing socio-economic disadvantages and reducing early school leaving
- Participation in sports
- Teaching diverse groups of pupils
- Early and pre-primary learning

Children and pupils at very young age should get awareness for the importance of learning foreign languages or using and learning about ICT as a basic knowledge in a rapidly changing world. The constantly changing requirements make it also very important to ensure and develop teacher training and the pedagogical abilities of teachers or trainers. One ubiquitous point is the mobility. Also in the Comenius program pupil exchanges or staffs exchanges from school to school a big topic to exchange experience and create new courses, curricula and general solutions. Especially for linking and promoting partnerships and school mobility 80% of the Comenius budget is planned. Within the former project circle 2000-2005 the budget amounted around 339.983.000 EUR.[24] The number of applications for funding is increasing yearly. The biggest increase can be seen in the area of In-Service Training (ICT). Rising from 15.500 up to 20.400 is showing an increase of 31%.[25]

The second part of the LLP is Erasmus, the former Leonardo da Vinci programme for higher education and vocational training. After the initial launch in 1987 it is now the best-known program addressing higher education on tertiary level. Purpose and objectives of the Erasmus is pursuing for innovations. “Erasmus centralized actions support transnational cooperation among higher education institutions and other relevant stakeholders across Europe through multilateral projects, including projects designed to reach out to the world of business, as well as networks and accompanying measures.”[26] As already mentioned the total program budget for the LLP is 6,970 billion Euros. Around 40% of this budget is allocated to the Erasmus Program which means an amount of approximately 2,788 billion Euros. This program reaches up to 80% of the budget spending on mobility of students, teachers or other higher educational staff. Within the project duration the program shell encourage the mobility up to a number of 3 million individuals until 2012 as well as promoting the interaction between higher education institutions.[27] Last numbers by mid of 2010 were already showing a student mobility of 2.2 million individuals. Numbers are showing a constant increase in student mobility since the establishment of the Erasmus Program in 1987/88. From an initial number of 3244 students travelling in the first year up to 177.705 students in 2009/10 only on study reasons not regarding any placements abroad the program seems to be a total success. Taking a closer look at Hungary there is also a steady increase of outgoing Erasmus students (856 in 1998/99 up to 3421 in 2009/10).[28]

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Table 2: Outgoing Erasmus Students Under the Life-long Learning Program 2007/08 2009/10[29]

The table above shows the number of outgoing students within the duration of the Life-long Learning Program. The numbers are generally increasing since the establishment in 2007. Therefore it is possible to say that the implementation has a positive effect on the student mobility. Regarding to the numbers of the LLP (Life-long Learning Program) the progress in integrating new member states e.g. Hungary is successful. The student mobility in Hungary is increasing through the project duration.

Also in this program the promotion of mobility among students and teaching staff increases the exchange of skills. The cultural understanding is growing and the awareness of cultural diversities as well as the respect and tolerance for different nationalities and cultures. As part of the Erasmus program the implementation of the ECTS system was set up within 1988 and 1995. This European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) should improve the transparency and the recognition of courses after returning to the home university. As a big advance of having one coherent system it makes performances comparable and ensures recognition at the home university was well as open the way to flexible learning paths. For a proper implementation of the system countries have to ensure a consistent use of the ECTS at all HEIs (Higher Education Institutes). The system not only makes performances comparable but also measures afford. The idea is that a student should have working hours of 1500 to 1800 a year. An envisaged average working load of 1600 hours p.a. (40 hours at 40 weeks) equals an annual amount of 60 ECTS. The working load does not only include the time in the University but also the preparation of the lectures at home and must therefore be based on the students afford and not on the time for teaching. Keeping the lectures up to date not only regarding the content but also relating on workload for the students regular evaluations are necessary and essential. Further requirements are to issue information about the courses in English and on beforehand the course starts. Also every student has to create and deliver a learning agreement which ensures the recognition of academic units between the exchanging universities. Basically the system has to ensure access to higher education and to make it as wide as possible.


[1] Cf. www.europa.eu; Education, training, youth, sport.

[2] Cf. www.europa.eu; Education and training – General Framework.

[3] Cf. Lisbon Strategy 2000; Employment, Economic Reform and Social Cohesion

[4] Cf. www.europa.eu; The Lisbon Special Council March 2000.

[5] Cf. www.europa.eu; The Bologna Process.

[6] Cf. Lisbon Strategy 2000; Employment, Economic Reform and Social Cohesion

[7] Cf. www.europa.eu; key competences for a changing world (2010)

[8] Cf. www.statinfo.ksh.hu; Total R&D expenditure by financial sources.

[9] Cf. www.europa.eu; key competences for a changing world (2010)

[10] Cf. Official Journal of the EU; Key competences for lifelong learning (2006)

[11] Cf. Official Journal of the EU; Key competences for lifelong learning (2010)

[12] Cf. Official Journal of the EU; Delivering lifelong learning for knowledge, creativity and innovation (2008)

[13] Cf. Official Journal of the EU; Key competences for lifelong learning (2010)

[14] Cf. Official Journal of the EU; Delivering lifelong learning for knowledge, creativity and innovation (2008)

[15] Cf. www.statinfo.ksh.hu; Main data on initial education.

[16] Cf. www.statinfo.ksh.hu; Vocational education training.

[17] Cf. Life-long Learning Activity Report (2010).

[18] Cf. www.europa.eu

[19] Cf. Life-long Learning Activity Report (2010).

[20] Cf. EACEA – Life-long Learning Program; Katia de Sousa (Florence, 2009).

[21] Cf. www.pnoconsultants.com

[22] Cf. www.europa.eu

[23] Cf. www.europa.eu

[24] Cf. www.europa.eu; A higher quality for schools; IP/05/1372; Brussels (2005).

[25] Cf. Life-long Learning Activity Report (2010).

[26] Cf. www.eacea.ec.europa.eu

[27] Cf. Official Journal of the EU; Decision No 1720/2006/EC; Article 21 (2006).

[28] Cf. www.ec.europa.eu; Erasmus Statistics – Outgoing Students (2010).

[29] Cf. www.ec.europa.eu


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European Cooperation Crossborder Cooperation European Union Intercultural Cooperatin within Europe



Title: Crossing Borders: European Cooperation for success