Labour Blog

Labour Blog

EU education council meeting report

Posted on May 11, 2012 at 04:03 PM

Ruairi Quinn - Minister Ruairi Quinn and Kaisa Penny from the PES
Minister Ruairi Quinn and Kaisa Penny from the PES

Ruairi Quinn is spending two days in Brussels this week, attending meetings of the Presidency of the PES (Party of European Socialists) and the EU Education Council.

The PES is Labour's family in Europe - bringing together socialist and social democratic parties from across the EU. The Presidency of the PES is chaired by Ruairi.

One of the major items for discussion at the PES Presidency was the start of the PES Youth Guarantee campaign - a campaign that follows on from the agreement of this report which explored solutions to youth unemployment.

The Youth Guarantee is an idea that a commitment would be made to those under 25 and out of work, that the Government would offer them an internship or a work focused training or education placement, within a set period of becoming unemployed. At home, the idea has already been advanced by John Lyons, who is working closely with Joan Burton and Ruairi on concrete ways of advancing the idea.

It's another idea of how the Labour family in Europe are working together to ensure that growth as well as stability are at the heart of our recovery.

The Presidency also had a significant discussion on how the election of Francois Hollande in France and Victor Ponta in Romania can help strengthen the Labour argument for growth at a European level. The mood of the PES has been transformed by the election of Hollande and Ponta, as well as victories for the British Labour Party in their recent local elections, and SPD victory in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

Last night, the Danish presidency of the Education Council held a meeting of the countries that will hold the EU presidency over the next 12 months, and again, youth unemployment formed the major part of the detail of this meeting. These meetings are a great opportunity for Ireland to prepare to host the EU presidency in the first half of next year - much of that groundwork has already been completed behind the scenes.

Today, the Education, Youth, Sport and Culture Council met - with education ministers from the 27 member states discussing the Erasmus for all initiative - bringing Comenius, Leonardo and other programmes under the same umbrella as the Erasmus initiative that sees third-level students spend a year abroad. Whle negotiations are ongoing - it looks like the EU will be significantly increasing it's spending in education over the next seven years - something that can only be good for Ireland.

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