Nomination of the new Commissioner and upcoming European Parliament hearing
President-elect of the European Commission, M. Juncker, has announced his new Commission (see press release) last week. M. Tibor Navracsics, Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs, has been proposed as Commissioner for “Education, Culture, Youth and Citizenship”. In his letter of mission, M. Juncker asked M. Navracsics to contribute, in particular, to promote excellence and networking among European universities, to reinforce the “knowledge triangle” between education, business and research and to support the work of the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility on youth employment, the development of skills and the strengthening of lifelong learning. EUCIS-LLL welcomes the proposal to create more synergies between the different Commission Portfolios with thematic “clusters” to move forward some complex and important dossiers and to reach Europe 2020 targets. However the decision to move “Adult Education and Vocational education and training” from DG Education and Culture to DG Employment may hinder the coherence of EU action in promoting lifelong learning as a comprehensive policy. Of course bridges have to be built between the two Directorates. It is important that the EU continues to be forward looking with a clear vision on the future of learning in Europe, while only coordinated lifelong learning strategies can bring those results. EUCIS-LLL welcomes the fact that citizenship is part of the same portfolio as education, culture and youth. Indeed the current economic downturn poses a serious challenge to fundamental rights and democratic participation through rising unemployment, shrinking public spending, growing xenophobia or racism. As stated in M. Navracsics’ mission letter making sure “Europeans can fully participate in society and empowering them to engage” is a sine qua none condition to build mutual trust and support with civil society. In view of Mr Navracsics’ and Mrs Thyssen’s public hearings by the European Parliament at the end of September, EUCIS-LLL has proposed some key questions to raise by MEPs of the CULT and EMPL Committees.