Reaffirming the right to education, what will the European Pillar of Social Rights bring?

From the very first event on Monday, participants in the room as well as observers on social media understood that this edition of Lifelong Learning Week organised mainly by Lifelong Learning Platform and European Youth Forum, was going to be successful.

The kick-off took place in the European Parliament with the discussion on the Pillar of Social Rights. Even though both the panellists and the audience were in a hopeful mood after the proclamation the week before (17 November in Gothenburg) there was clear unanimity on the importance of the plan for implementation. The success of the Pillar and important changes that the implementation would bring at the national level, are largely connected to the restoration of trust between citizens and the European project.

The first principle of the declaration approved by the heads of states reads as follow:

1. Education, training and life-long learning

Everyone has the right to quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning in order to maintain and acquire skills that enable them to participate fully in society and manage successfully transitions in the labour market.

SOLIDAR Foundation was represented by Conny Reuter who reaffirmed our commitment to promote the right to free and quality education but stressed that all the principles in the Pillar are strongly interconnected and the implementation of all of them has to start as soon as possible. He supported the intention of ETUC, our partner organisation, to design a Roadmap to the implementation of the Pillar and calls for  a Social Progress Protocol, a mechanism that would be legally binding at the national level without the need for changes to  the European treaty.

Other topics that were discussed and mentioned multiple times by the audience were the privatisation of education and the growing competition between universities.

The panel concluded the workshop by agreeing that education is not only a tool to strengthen the labour and economic markets but universal right that needs regular public investment. The next MFF negotiation will be a decisive moment to judge if access to lifelong learning will become a reality for all or just one of the wishes of the Europe 2020 strategy.