Observatory on European Social Policies

Prepared by the European Union Center of Excellence, University of Miami


The European Commission has 27 European Commissioners currently serving for the term 2010-2014.  Some of them lead Directorates within the European Commission that are responsible for administration of the corresponding functional areas.  Some Directorates concerned with social policy are the Directorate forEducation and Culture,  the Directorate for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, the Directorate for Home Affairs (migration policy), and the Directorate for Regional Policy.

The Directorate for Education and Culture is represented by Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou of Cyprus.  The Directorate General of Education and Culture actively promotes Education and Training, Culture, Youth, Sport, and Multilingualism through International Cooperation.  The Directorate for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion is represented by Commissioner László Andor of Hungary, and the Directorate for Home Affairs is represented byCommissioner Ceclia Malmström of Sweden.

The Directorate for Regional Policy is represented by Commissioner Johannes Hahnof Austria.  The Maastricht Treaty (1992) created the Committee of the Regions, and it also provided for formal European Union citizenship.  The Regions for Economic Change database provides statistics and evaluations.  The European Commission states that the “The purpose of EU regional policy is to reduce the significant economic, social and territorial disparities that still exist between Europe's regions.  Leaving these disparities in place would undermine some of the cornerstones of the EU, including its large single market and its currency, the euro.”

A recent initiative to modernize labor markets while preserving the European social model is “flexicurity” with the dual purpose to provide flexible and security in the labor market.   The four components of flexicurity are:

  • Flexible and reliable contractual arrangements
  • Comprehensive lifelong learning (LLL)
  • Effective active labour market policies (ALMP
  • Modern social security systems


Though education policy remains a national competency, the inter-governmental initiative of The Bologna Process is higher education reform initiated in 1999 to support the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).  During April 2012 the 8th Ministerial Meeting and Bologna Policy Forum took place in Bucharest, Romania.  The Bucharest Communiqué was adopted, that paved the way for countries to undertake automatic recognition of academic degrees among countries in the EHEA.  Additionally the  EHEA Mobility Strategy: Mobility for Better Learning was adopted that presented the target for 20 percent of students to spend a period of study outside their home country by the year 2020.  The next Ministerial Meeting is set for June 2015 in Yerevan, Armenia.  The host country location outside of the European Union demonstrates the Bologna Process’ commitment to all 47 countries in the region of Europe.  The Bologna Follow Up Group (BFUG) is organized by the Secretariat at the location to host the upcoming Ministerial Conference.  Periodic BFUG meetings are composed of representatives from all member countries to share information and to coordinate educational outcomes.    

The 47 participating countries and the European Commission are Members in the Bologna Process.  The following are 8 Consultative Members:

  • Council of Europe
  • European University Association (EUA)
  • European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASH)
  • European Students' Union (ESU)
  • European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA)
  • Education International Pan-European Structure


The Bologna Process is institutional change at multiple levels of governance and policy convergence to improve quality and social inclusiveness in educational outcomes.  The primary mechanisms are reciprocity of academic degrees andmobility of students and labor.  The emphasis on mobility of students and labor complements the four freedoms of the common market:  labor, capital, goods, and services.  This objective is complementary to the Lisbon Treaty’s economic growth strategy of Europe 2020.  The “smart, sustainable, and inclusive” growth initiatives through education, employment, innovation, social cohesion, and climate/environment share targets for economic governance.

For more information on the European Union, please visit: http://europa.eu/index_en.htm



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