The EU promotes access to quality basic education for all children, youth and adults. This global commitment was agreed through the international Education for All movement. The achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of universal primary education and gender equality in education is also a key priority of the EU Commission’s development policy. This is reflected in the EU’s allocation of more than EUR 4.2 billion on education, including Higher Education, between 2007 and 2012. Due to EU support some 13.7 million pupils have been enrolled between 2004 and 2012 and 1.1 million primary teachers have been trained.
The latest EU policy for development ‘Increasing the Impact of EU Development Policy: An Agenda for Change’ (2011) highlights the importance of education as part of its support for social inclusion and human development, with the aim to foster inclusive and sustainable growth.
In practice, this includes addressing the challenges of access, quality, equity and relevance of education, as well as ensuring the provision of skills that respond to labour market needs. The Agenda for Change commits the EU to allocating at least 20 % of its 2014-20 aid budget for human development and social inclusion.
In its February 2013 Communication ‘A Decent Life for All’, the EU resolved to move from the purely quantitative education goals of the MDGs, towards the promotion of quality education for all. In May 2013, at an EU High Level Conference, Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs pledged to ensure that by 2030 every child will be able to complete basic education, regardless of their circumstances, and have basic literacy and numeracy skills.
In this regard, in May 2013 the Commission announced that it expected to mobilise as much as EUR 4 billion for education in the next programming period (2014-20).