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he Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU) is the platform for cooperation between the national school student unions active in general secondary and secondary vocational education in Europe. It was founded in April 1975 in Dublin, Ireland and brings together Member, Candidate and Affiliate Organisations from all over Europe. All Member Organisations are independent, national, representative and democratic school student organisations. As OBESSU we stand together: • To represent the school students as stakeholders of their educational systems, and in issues concerning their lives; • To provide the national school student unions with assistance and support and to co-operate for the development of school student representative structures; • To encourage and enable exchange of experience and good practice among the national school students unions; • To promote equal access to education and to strive for the end of all discrimination and injustice within the educational systems; • To contribute to the development of democratic educational systems in Europe, that promote active citizenship in all forms; • To promote solidarity and understanding between young people; • To promote new teaching methods in learning and promote healthy teaching environment. The Training Course for International Officers (TCIO) was an OBESSU training course for young people active in secondary school student organisations, focused on the European aspects of education questions. It was held between the 6th and 12th September 2015 (including travel days) in Brussels, Belgium. It was organised by OBESSU and co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme through the Flemish National Agency, JINT.


The Training Course for International Officers aimed at creating synergies among international officers in School Student Organisations in Europe. For this, the specific objectives were: • To reflect on the role as international officers in different organisations; • To increase participants’ interest and knowledge in European affairs, most notably in the field of youth and education; • To provide the space and support the development of partnerships and common projects between different student organisations; • To increase the capacity of international officers in the field of education to take part in European-level debates and to influence its decision-making; • To equip participants with transversal skills such as communication, negotiation, creativity, intercultural understanding and proactivity; • To develop the participants’ sense of European citizenship.

What is in this Booklet?


any young people, and specifically school students, feel very far from the European Union Institutions. Attempts and efforts are being done to bring both parts together, but with difficult results. This booklet aims at helping young people and school students to understand the European Union structure and decision-making, as well as identifying what are the spaces where they can influence and participate. Therefore, in here you will find parts on: • • • • •

Easy map to understand the EU institutions EU institutions that are working with education Education-related policies What can we do as young people to influence European-level policy-making? The Erasmus+ Programme


Mapping the European Union institutions The following are the main institutions in the European Union.

European Parliament


he European Parliament (EP) is the directly elected - by the citizens of the 28 member states - legislative body of the EU. Together with the Council (see below) its main task is to create new laws, but also to approve the EU budget and approve the 28 Commissioners. The 751 parliamentarians are elected in a Europe-wide election every five years, the last one in 2014. The number of parliamentarians (usually referred to as “MEPs”, or Members of the European Parliament) per country is dependent on the size of each country’s population. For example, the biggest EU country Germany has 96 MEPs and the smallest country Malta has 6. The voter turnout has often been low in the European Parliament elections, in particular among young people. In 2014, only approximately 28 % of those aged between 18 and 24 voted. Each of the 751 MEPs sits in one or several committees, organised according to the topics that is being handled. The Committee on Trade deals with trade-related matters, the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development deals with topics related to agriculture, and so on. In the European Parliament there are also several “Intergroups” – these are less formal than committees and unlike committees they do not vote and cannot take official decisions. They are organised thematically according to topics which do not belong in any committee.


The EP is based in Brussels for most of the times, but the plenary sessions in which decisions are taken are in Strasbourg, France. 12 times a year the MEPs travel to Strasbourg for a four-day session.

European Commission


he European Commission (EC) is the institution which runs most of the day-to-day business of the EU and is often called the “executive” branch, but it should not be confused with a government. Each Member State nominates one Commissioner for a five-year period, and these have to be approved by the European Parliament. Even though each Commissioner is nominated by a Member State, a Commissioner is not supposed to represent his_her country. Instead, they are supposed to represent the whole EU. Usually there are tough negotiations between different Member States and within the EP before the final approval. The head of the 28 Commissioners is Jean-Claude Juncker from Luxembourg. The Commission is based in Brussels. Under the 28 Commissioners there are different Directorate-Generals, or DGs. There is a DG for Environment, for Energy, for Education and Culture and many others. There are 33 DGs in total, so some Commissioners are responsible for more than one DG. You can find a full list at

Council of the EU


he Council of the EU, also often referred to as the Council of Ministers, or simply “the Council”1, consists of the ministers from all 28 Member States. If they discuss a topic related to education, it is the Ministers of Education that meet, if the topic is about energy it is the Ministers of Energy, and so on. So unlike the other two institutions mentioned above, the Council represents country-specific interest. Saying that this institution consists of ministers is a bit simplified. Apart from the ministers there are also Permanent Representations to the EU where a lot of the work is being prepared. The Council is chaired by a rotating Presidency, where each country is

1 is Council should not be confused with the European Council or Council of Europe, which are something completely different.


chair for six months at a time. This means that as long as there are no new Member States, every country will chair every 14 years. During the Presidency many meetings take place in the Presidency country. In the Council, the ministers often try to find compromises and reach consensus rather than vote on proposals. This is of course not always easy, since many of the 28 Member States often have views which are very different from each other.

Other institutions


n addition to these, there are several smaller institutions, for example the European Central Bank, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Court of Auditors, the European External Action Service and the European Economic and Social Committee. These are somewhat outside the scope of this booklet and will not be further discussed here. But we invite you to explore their websites ( institutions-bodies/) where you can find all the information!

How do the three main institutions work together?


ere follows a brief outline of the work of the main institutions. Please note that it is a simplified version and that reality can include more elements than those explained here. All legislation is initiated by the Commission. The Commission prepares a draft and sends it to both the European Parliament and to the Council. Both of these two have to adopt the proposal, and this is called the co-decision procedure. When the Parliament has agreed internally on its position (after discussing and voting in the committee(s) and in plenary, the person responsible for the specific proposal (called the “rapporteur”) is ready to negotiate the position on behalf of the Parliament. When the Council has agreed on its position internally, the person who is responsible for the proposal (a representative of the Presidency country) is ready to negotiate. The rapporteur, the Council representative and the Commission representatives meet to negotiate the position and these meetings are called “trialogues”.


When the three have agreed on a position, often after long negotiations, it has to be formally adopted by both the Parliament and the Council. Then it becomes legislation.

Note that not all acts are legislation. The institutions can also write non-binding recommendations, reports and communications.


European institutions that are working with education Education is, as with all EU topics, dealt with by several of the institutions above.

European Parliament


n the European Parliament education is mainly the responsibility of the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT), currently chaired by Silvia Costa (Social Democrat, from Italy). However, questions related to Vocational Education and Training (VET) and questions that are connected to employment questions are in the hands of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL), currently chaired by Thomas H채ndel (European United Left - Nordic Green Left, from Germany). Regarding the Intergroups, there are two that are doing things relevant to OBESSU: the Intergroup on Youth and the Intergroup on LGBTI. OBESSU has had some contact with both but it should be emphasised that both of them have been quite a lot less relevant than the two Committees mentioned above.


European Commission


he Commission body responsible for education is the Directorate-General Education and Culture (DG EAC), but, similarly to the case with the European Parliament described above there are some aspects of education dealt with by the Directorate-General Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion (DG EMPL). According to the Commission itself, there is a lot of collaboration between these two. The Commission is the body which is responsible for the education and youth programmes such as Erasmus+ (see last page). It also produces regular research and recommendations to the Member States. It brings together Member States and experts in working groups in order to come up with these recommendations.

Council of the EU


irst of all, as noted above, the Council of the EU should not be confused with Council of Europe. Council of the EU consists of the Ministers of Education from all the Member States. OBESSU does not have regular contact with this body, but of course the member organisations often – but far from always – have some kind of cooperation with the Ministries of Education.

Institutions not related to the EU


part from the European Union, there are also educational aspects of the Council of Europe (CoE). Unlike EU, all European countries (apart from Belarus) are members and CoE cannot make binding legislations. The body in CoE most active in education-related questions is the Steering Committee for Educational Policy and Practice (CDPPE), of which OBESSU is an observer member (and so is the European Students’ Union). Having been member for only a little more than one year, OBESSU has unfortu-


nately not worked a whole lot with CDPPE, but it is in the OBESSU Development Strategy to develop this cooperation further. A non-European institution working on education is also the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), consisting of 34 member countries (most of them high-income countries) and based in Paris. OECD Education is perhaps most famous for the PISA tests but it does different things too. OBESSU has had ad hoc cooperation with OECD Education during the last years; for example, they had a guest speaker coming to OBESSU’s 40th anniversary earlier this year (2015).

Education-related policies


n this chapter we will look at five specific policy documents related to education. As you can see below, some of these are very specific and concrete proposals, while others are more generally guidelines for future work. They also involved different institutions. Consequently, the way OBESSU reacted to them were also quite different. The policy documents were: • Two reports in the European Parliament related to education; • Education and Training 2020 (“ET 2020”); • Europe 2020; • The Riga Conclusions; • TTIP and education.


European Parliament reports on education and skills Background


arlier in 2015, the European Parliament drafted two so-called own-initiative reports related to education.

• Skills policies for fighting youth unemployment (2015/2088(INI)). Rapporteur was Marek Plura (Christian Democrat from Poland). This report, as the title indicates, looks at various tools, including education, which can help Europe overcoming the worryingly high youth unemployment. The report stresses the concept of skills; the youth of Europe, the argument goes, lack the skills that are needed for today’s labour market and therefore the education systems should be adjusted in order to overcome this problem. (This is called “skills mismatch” in EU jargon). It further emphasises stronger cooperation between different stakeholders, like businesses and education providers, and it also tackles entrepreneurship (or rather the lack of it) in Europe. • Creating a competitive EU labour market for the 21st century: matching skills and qualifications with demand and job opportunities, as a way to recover from the crisis (2014/2235(INI)). Rapporteur was Martina Dlabajova (Liberal from Czech Republic). This report is reasonably similar to the one above, also focusing on the lack of skills needed for Europe’s labour market. Unlike the other one it also mentions new jobs connected to digitalisation, labour market flexibility and mobility.


Did you know... A rapporteur is someone who drafts the initial text for the Parliament. After this is done, the other party groups each appoint a “shadow rapporteur” who proposes changes to the first draft. Once this is done, the shadow rapporteurs and the original rapporteur each meet up and see if they, based on the different texts, can make “compromise amendments” – perhaps there are some differences that are so small that they can be changed into something which they all agree on without voting upon it. After this, the text goes to vote in the committee. In the cases for these two reports they are first voted upon in the Employment Committee, but at a later stage (at least for the first one) there will also be a vote in the Culture and Education Committee. Each of the shadow rapporteurs, as well as any other MEP who wants to, can propose amendments and these are all voted on. After the vote in the Committee it is later taken to the vote in plenary. In the first vote for Creating a competitive EU labour market… there were no less than 361 amendments in total!


What is the impact and why is this interesting for OBESSU?


lthough, it is the Commission which initiates legislation in the EU, it is of great importance what the Parliament’s view is. Once adopted, these texts become “the official opinion of the Parliament” and as you can see in end of the text, both of them say “Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.” Both reports in the first drafts were notably lacking an “OBESSU perspective”. Although they both mention education several times there was no mention of student representation. To mention just one example, paragraph 21 of Creating a competitive EU labour market, said in the original draft: “Believes that close partnerships are needed between governments and employers’ and employees’ representatives in order to find the best ways of tackling the problem of skill mismatches in all its dimensions”. For this sentence, OBESSU thought that a better text would be: “Believes that close partnerships are needed between governments and employers’ and employees’ representatives, as well as learners’ organisations, in order to find the best ways of tackling the problem of skill mismatches in all its dimensions”. So what has OBESSU done about it?


or the first report, OBESSU was in contact with Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, a Finnish MEP who was shadow rapporteur for the Social Democrat group. Miapetra was active in the student movement in Finland and one of her policy advisors was until recently active in the European Student’s Union (ESU), which OBESSU cooperates with frequently. So, one could say that she is “student-friendly”. The OBESSU Board had a look at the original text, made some proposals for changes and sent them to Miapetra and her policy advisors. For the second report, OBESSU was in contact with Terry Reintke, a German MEP who was shadow rapporteur for the Greens. Similarly to the first one, the Board drafted amendments (including the one mentioned above)


based on the original text and sent to Terry and her policy advisors. Some, but not all, of the amendments were officially proposed by Terry when the report was voted upon in the Committee.

Education and Training 2020 Background


ducation and Training 2020, often abbreviated as ET2020, is the framework for EU cooperation in education and training.

ET 2020 has four common objectives to be reached by 2020: • Making lifelong learning and mobility a reality; • Improving the quality and efficiency of education and training; • Promoting equity, social cohesion, and active citizenship; • Enhancing creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training. Statistics about the topics are gathered in the Education and Training Monitor, the latest of which was released in December 2014. Since the EU does not have competence in this policy field, a lot of the work is done within the Open Method of Coordination (OMC), a method in which member states cooperate with each other – and with the Commission – and in the end produce recommendations (i.e. not legislation). In the words of the ET 2020 website, the role of the EU is to offer “a forum for exchange of best practices, gathering and dissemination of information and statistics, as well as advice and support for policy reforms”. The work of the Commission is done by Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC), the part of the Commission which is responsible for education. Note that the OMC is also open to European non-EU countries. In the case of the Working Group on School Policy, representatives from the non-members Norway, Liechtenstein, Serbia and Turkey are also included. Another important part of the ET2020 is the annual Education, Training and Youth Forum, held in the fall of every year. The structure of this has


shifted a bit over the years but it is basically a Commission-organised event where a large number of civil society organisations like OBESSU are invited to discuss topics related to ET2020 and to produce recommendations. These recommendations are then sent to the Council of Ministers, i.e. the Ministers of Education and Youth, who meet shortly after. In order to support the EU’s education and training policies, we also have the Erasmus+ Programme. This programme funds many of OBESSU’s activities, including TCIO. In September 2015, a Draft 2015 Joint Report on ET2020 was released by the Commission. It was partly based on the mid-term review (see below) and is expected to be formally adopted by the Council in the end of the year. Both our friends Lifelong Learning Platform (former EUCIS-LLL) and ESU wrote positive statements about it when released. What is the impact and why is this interesting for OBESSU?


urope’s policies in education and training are very important. Topics like quality of education, social inclusion in education, active citizenship etc. are all topics that OBESSU has worked on a lot during the last years. Even though there are “only” recommendations produced, these recommendations are sent to all member states and become something like “the official recommendations of the EU”. Many of the recommendations are country-specific. For example, national targets regarding early school leaving, access to higher education, early childhood education and lifelong learning, are produced and sent to the member states along with recommendations on how to reach the targets. So by influencing the European-level discussions, OBESSU is also indirectly influencing what is happening on the national level. So what has OBESSU done about it?


n 2014 there was a mid-term review of ET2020. OBESSU was asked to take part in the consultation for this and gave a limited input. OBESSU also gave input to the more elaborate input given by the Lifelong Learning Platform (former EUCIS-LLL).


Regarding the Education, Training and Youth Forum, OBESSU always takes part and, depending on the different sub-topics, gives input and emphasises certain parts of our Political Platform. Last year OBESSU wrote a reaction to the above-mentioned Education and Training Monitor and will probably do that also for future editions. OBESSU also took part in the 2012-2013 Thematic Working Group on Early School Leaving (TWG ESL), but unfortunately the next Working Group on School Policy (2014 -->) is not open to civil society organisations like OBESSU.

Europe 2020 Background


urope 2020 is the EU’s growth strategy for the ten-year period 20102020. This strategy has five so-called headline targets, i.e. targets that should have been met by 2020 at the latest. The two related to education are: • Reducing the rates of early school leaving below 10%. • At least 40% of 30-34–year-olds completing third level education. Of these two, especially the first one is obviously very relevant to OBESSU. The progress of these goals can be followed on Eurostat’s website and also broken down and translated into national targets. Part of Europe 2020 is also seven “Flagship Initiatives”. The most important of these from an OBESSU perspective are Agenda for new skills and jobs and to a lesser extent Youth on the Move. Unlike some other policy documents, Europe 2020 is not one clear proposal on one topic. Instead it is a very broad overall strategy which affects various policy areas. The work on early school leaving has been dealt with by DG EAC in the European Commission. DG EAC cannot propose any legislation for the EU – the topic of education is not within the competence of the EU – but it can issue recommendations, after organising cooperation between the member states. This method of


cooperation and recommendation is called the Open Method of Coordination (OMC). For example, in 2012 and 2013, the Commission set up a Thematic Working Group on Early School Leaving (TWG ESL), consisting of representatives of each member states (+ Norway, Iceland and Turkey) and organisations such as OBESSU. It should be noted that for this particular target the outlooks actually look pretty good. The number of early school leavers is slowly but steadily decreasing (but with worrying regional discrepancies) and the target of 10 % in 2020 seems to be within reach. This is in sharp contrast to some of the other indicators, for example public spending in education, which point in a more troublesome direction. Statistics like the one noted above are gathered in the Education and Training Monitor, the latest of which was released in December 2014. What is the impact and why is this interesting for OBESSU?


urope 2020 is strongly focused on issues like public finances, employment and energy, but education and social inclusion is also part of it and this is why OBESSU has an interest in it. Notably the topic of early school leaving is discussed thoroughly in OBESSU’s Political Platform. The position is rather well captured in the sentences “to fight school dropouts begins with identifying the lacks of the school system and society, rather than miss-adaption of the student” and “OBESSU believes that school can succeed in adapting to different learners only when teachers are given the social skills required to recognize and support different learning styles and the time to pay attention to each and every individual student in the classroom”. So what has OBESSU done about it?


n the fall of 2014, there was a big “mid-term review” of Europe 2020 and all organisations, companies and individuals who so wished could take part in a consultation. OBESSU submitted a consultation, giving input to the questions that somehow affected education. With regards to the sub-topic of early school leaving OBESSU has also been active, especially in the TWG ESL mentioned above. In general, the


measures to prevent early school leaving tend to be structured into three clusters: - preventive initiatives (e.g. school democracy, inclusive schools, proper counselling, school psychology etc.); - interventive initiatives (e.g. “early warning systems”, cooperation with other social institutions, involvement of all stakeholders such as parents, social workers in schools, etc.); - corrective initiatives (e.g. second chance education etc.) In contrast to many of the other members of the TWG ESL, OBESSU stressed the first part, basically saying that an inclusive school environment where each school student feels welcome and feels ownership of his_her education is the best preventative measure. Many of the OBESSU proposals were included in the final report which was released in November 2013. From 2014 onwards, the Commission’s work on early school leaving has continued in the ET 2020 Working Group on School Policy, but this group is, unlike the TWG, not open to civil society organisations like OBESSU.

VET and the “Riga Conclusions” Background


ocational Education and Training (VET) is an increasingly important topic on the European level, largely because of its close connection to labour market policy.


The European-level VET policy has developed throughout the years largely through the very influential Copenhagen Declaration (2002) and the Bruges Communiqué (2010). Copenhagen was drafted after the Lisbon Strategy (2000), according to which Europe should become “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world” by the year 2010, largely by focusing on education. Copenhagen was a first step

to harmonising the various VET systems in Europe. Bruges introduced the “dual objectives” of VET: “contributing to employability and economic growth, and responding to broader societal challenges, in particular promoting social cohesion”. In general, much of the VET work is coordinated by the Commission. Up until 2014 this was handled by DG EAC but with the Juncker Commission it was moved to DG Employment. OBESSU and ESU were worried that this was an indication that the Commission was neglecting the educational aspect in favour of the labour market perspective. Representatives from the VET Unit have later told OBESSU that the educational aspect has not been forgotten and that there is plenty of collaboration between DG EAC and DG Employment. During 2014 and 2015 the Commission, together with representatives from member states’ Ministries of Education (and/or Ministries of Labour Market, or similar) worked on the follow-up of Copenhagen and Bruges. The result was a declaration which will guide the VET work from 2015 onwards. It was adopted in Riga, during the Latvian Presidency and was therefore called the Riga Conclusion. One important forum for these discussions is the Advisory Committee on Vocational Training (ACVT), where the Commission, member states, employers’ organisations and unions are members. OBESSU is an observer member. It should be noted that neither of the three documents (Copenhagen, Bruges, Riga) is a piece of legislation. They are rather recommendations that all member states have jointly agreed on following. And in fact not only member states but also Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. What is the impact and why is this interesting for OBESSU?


few of OBESSU’s Member Organisations work only with VET students, some work with both vocational and academic students and yet others do not work with VET at all. While OBESSU has been critical towards certain aspects of VET, it is equally important to mention that VET as such is something which OBESSU supports. The fact that VET unfortunately is sometimes looked down upon is a big problem for OBESSU, highlighted most notably in the 2012-2013 Claim your Voice campaign.


The Riga Conclusions will have a big impact in shaping the VET systems in Europe during the coming years; they will therefore have a profound effect on learners and learners’ organisations and therefore it is very important for OBESSU to actively join the discussions to make sure that the learners’ perspectives are not forgotten. In the ACVT mentioned above, OBESSU is the only organisation representing learners themselves. So what has OBESSU done about it?


n 2013 OBESSU also adopted a position paper on the Dual VET System. In this paper, OBESSU pointed out that “Education should never be at the discretion of a company […] and its impartiality should never be affected by third parties’ interests, therefore it should remain strictly a state responsibility”. It also pointed out that the often-mentioned “skills mismatch” cannot be simply solved by VET programmes: “The skills needed in this fast-changing labour market, however, are neither easy to define nor to foresee. Vocational Education programmes should not aim to do so, but rather prepare school students with a lifelong learning approach”. In the ACVT and in numerous other meetings with the Commission and other bodies, OBESSU has constantly stressed the following points: • • • •

• • •


VET should be a learning process with the learner in the centre, and never a substitute for cheap labour; VET should be seen as a respectable alternative to academic education with equal merit; VET should not close the door to further studies; VET should not primarily give students the skills needed for a certain company, but rather prepare them for an ever-changing labour market where they can move between employers and also re-skill themselves later; VET students should be represented, either by a school student union or by a trade union (or both); Apprenticeships should be paid and the learner should be given a legally binding contract stating his_her rights at the workplace; Regarding the link between the labour market and VET, employers should be consulted as external experts (together with students and teachers) but not decide on the curricula.

Although perhaps not a VET-topic only, it should be pointed out that OBESSU was an extremely active organisation in drafting the European Quality Charter on Internships and Apprenticeships (, which the European Youth Forum is now promoting heavily.

TTIP and education Background


he proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, better known as TTIP, has been a hot topic in European as well as national-level debates during 2014 and 2015. Simply put, TTIP is a proposed free trade agreement between the EU and the USA. The governments of the EU member states gave the Commission the mandate to negotiate with its American counterparts in 2013 and since that there have been several rounds of negotiations between the two sides. Once these are over, the agreement will have to be approved both by the Council of Ministers, by the European Parliament and by both Houses of the US Congress. This is not expected to happen before 2016. TTIP has not been uncontroversial. Proponents and critics have plenty to disagree on. In the words of Wikipedia, “Proponents say the agreement would result in multilateral economic growth, while critics say it would increase corporate power and make it more difficult for governments to regulate markets for public benefit”. Some of the criticism has been directed towards the proposed investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) which, according to the critics, can take power away from publicly elected bodies to unelected international courts. What is the impact and why is this interesting for OBESSU?


ome critics fear that the proposed agreement will have a negative effect on public education, opening up for for-profit institutions which can knock out publicly funded education. Some of OBESSU’s partner organisations expressed a concern for this. According to ESU, “Without effective protections and exemptions from the rules of the TTIP, the


education sector could be exposed to increased pressures of commercialisation and privatisation”. The rapporteur for the Parliament is Bernd Lange, a Social Democrat from Germany. He sits in the Committee on International Trade, which is mainly responsible for TTIP, but the question has also been dealt with by the Culture and Education Committee, which is where some advocacy has been done in the field of education. The rapporteur for CULT’s opinion was Helga Trüpel, a German MEP from the Greens. At the Parliament’s plenary session in July the Parliament adopted a resolution with 436 votes in favour, 241 against and 32 abstentions. The resolution stated support for TTIP but also saying that the ISDS should be reformed. So what has OBESSU done about it?


or quite long OBESSU did not have a position on this at all. However, at the Council of Members in Bratislava 2014, the Political Platform was amended so that it now includes a part about TTIP. The new text says that “the social dimension of education must not be left aside, and must rather be considered as the core of each country and of the EU”. Based on this, OBESSU was in contact with our friends in the Lifelong Learning Platform (former EUCIS-LLL), gave input to their draft position paper which subsequently, when adopted, was used for their advocacy towards CULT.


What can we do as young people to influence European-level policy-making? In this chapter we will look at what we as young people in general and International Officers in general can do to make our voices heard on the European level. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list and we are sure you can also come up with ideas on how to influence European-level policy-making.

Structured Dialogue on Youth


he Structured Dialogue on Youth is a tool for including young people in European-level decision-making. During the Presidency cycles (i.e. 1,5 years) there are different topics being discussed. For example, the topic from July 2014 to December 2015 is “Empowerment of young people for political participation in the democratic life in Europe”. Organisations which are interested in taking part can join the consultations in two ways: through OBESSU or through their respective National Youth Council. If you are interested get in contact with your NYC!

Join a youth organisation


t is easier to make your voice heard if you are a group of people than if you are alone. There are plenty of youth organisations “out there” working on a wide range of topics. If there are already good and well-developed youth organisations in your school or community, join one! If this is not the case, start one! In 2016 OBESSU will publish a Manual for


School Students, with tips on how to start or develop youth organisations. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with OBESSU if you are interested in this publication.



his might be to state the obvious, but of course a hugely important way of making one’s voice heard is to vote in the elections. In the last European Parliament elections (2014) the voter turnout was very low for young people. Having discussed the great importance that the European Parliament has, it is obvious that the importance of voting cannot be overestimated.

Contact a local MEP


lthough they work on the European level, the MEPs are elected by a local/regional/national constituency. Do not hesitate to ask directly to “your” MEP – or a candidate who might become an MEP in the future – about his_her views and plans in the field of education/youth. In OBESSU’s experience, most MEPs are open to discuss these questions with youth organisations.

Contact the Ministry of Education


s explained above, one of the big players in the field of education is the Council of the EU, which consists of national Ministries of Education. If you know of something important coming up in the EU, you can of course contact someone from your own Ministry. Chances are that your organisation is in a good position to contact the Ministry directly; as explained above, many (but not all) of OBESSU’s Member Organisations have established good cooperation already.




ampaigns are excellent ways of raising attention to a certain topic. The last years, OBESSU has had campaigns on social inclusion in education (, on the European Parliament elections 2014 ( printversion) and for the annual International Students’ Day (http:// Of course not only OBESSU organises campaigns; our Member Organisations do so too. During the last years they have organised very successful campaigns against budget cuts in education, against racism, for LGBTI rights in education, just to name a few topics. Don’t hesitate to get in contact with OBESSU or any of the Member Organisations if you have plans that you would like to discuss.

Erasmus+ projects


he Erasmus+ Programme is a funding programme from the European Commission that allows organisations which want to get involved in European-level activities, to organise them both in the field of youth and in the field of education. We encourage you to take a look at the programme guide and assess the activities you could organise: a training course, an exchange with another school student organisation or youth organisation; a meeting with European decision makers, etc. There are plenty of opportunities!



27 OBESSU Rue de l’Industrie 10 B-1000 Brussels, Belgium +32 2 893 2414 /obessu


|| This booklet was done with the support of the Erasmus+ Programme ||

EU EDUCATION POLICY - A short guide  

Many young people, and specifically school students, feel very far from the European Union Institutions. Attempts and efforts are being done...

EU EDUCATION POLICY - A short guide  

Many young people, and specifically school students, feel very far from the European Union Institutions. Attempts and efforts are being done...