The Council of the EU supports the European Education Area and automatic mutual recognition of study results


Ministers of education adopted two key documents for the implementation of the European Education Area.

On 16 May, the Council approved a Resolution on the European Education Area: Looking to 2025 and beyond. The document responds to the progress report on the European Education Area published by the European Commission in November 2022. Ministers also adopted Council conclusions on further steps to make automatic mutual recognition in education and training a reality. These assess the findings of the above-mentioned European Commission’s report and propose several steps to successfully implement automatic mutual recognition in education and training. The conclusions emphasise that whether such recognition is achieved depends above all on member states, which should work together to improve mutual trust and transparency.  

Resolution on the European Education Area 

The document builds on the Council Resolution on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training towards the European Education Area and beyond (2021-2030) and the European Commission Communication on achieving the European Education Area by 2025. In the newly adopted resolution, the Council focuses on inclusion, school success for all and promoting the acquisition of key competences. There is also focus on making the teaching profession more attractive and addressing teacher shortages through opportunities to take part in mobilities, improving working conditions and teacher well-being. Another objective of the resolution is to overcome existing barriers to mobilities, including by achieving automatic mutual recognition in education and training. Ministers also supported lifelong learning, including adult learning, up-skilling, re-skilling, and gaining skills and competences for the green and digital transition. 

In the resolution, the Council stresses the importance of promoting synergies between the European Education Area, the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area, and of fully exploiting the potential of European University Alliances. Ministers also agreed that it is crucial to focus on the implementation of the strategic framework at the national and European levels and on close monitoring. Furthermore, the Council calls on member states and the European Commission to step up their cooperation with other relevant actors at the national and European levels, including education providers and institutions, researchers, social partners, and civil society. 

Council conclusions on further steps to make automatic mutual recognition in education and training a reality 

During the Tuesday's meeting, the Council also adopted conclusions calling on member states to step up their efforts to achieve the objectives of the Council Recommendation on promoting automatic mutual recognition of higher education and upper secondary education and training qualifications and the outcomes of learning periods abroad. Member states are invited to support education institutions in the implementation of automatic mutual recognition, e.g., by establishing national procedures for them to follow. 

In the document, the Council points out that it is not possible to create a true European Education Area without automatic mutual recognition of qualifications and learning outcomes abroad, as this is one of the prerequisites and a cornerstone for promoting mobility in education. If recognition is not automatic, it can impose an administrative burden on institutions, education and training providers, as well as on learners themselves, which negatively affects equal access to fair and quality education throughout life and can hinder mobility. 

The Council therefore calls on member states to create an environment at the national level where a qualification which gives access to a certain level of higher education in the member state where it is awarded is automatically recognised as giving access to higher education at the same level in another member state, without prejudice to the right of higher education institutions to set specific admission criteria for particular programmes. 

In the Conclusions, the Council notes that challenges remain regarding the distinction between recognition of qualifications confirming eligibility for access to further education and admission to further study as such. Automatic recognition of qualification does not necessarily mean automatic admission to study without fulfilling the admission criteria. As recognition and admission processes are often combined at institutional level and the concept of automatic mutual recognition is often misunderstood, this could lead to inconsistencies.  

Reading as one of the key factors for achieving the European Education Area 

The next item on the Council's agenda was a policy debate on reading and to what extent good reading skills are important for learning, social justice and active participation in society. Ministers discussed the challenges and possible measures to increase pupils' reading skills, both at the national and EU levels.  

Learn more on the Council of the EU website