European Council/europe 2020 : Targets for Poverty and Education Put off until June

Article excerpt

The targets for poverty and education have vanished. On 26 March, the heads of state and government unanimously adopted the five headline targets of the Europe 2020' strategy for growth and employment found in the European Commission's communication of 3 March, but they simply deleted the targets for reducing poverty and early school leaving, in order to "fine-tune the appropriate indicators". At their meeting, the member states called for details on how competences and measurement tools would be shared. Although they agreed to tackle these two points at the next Council, on 17 June, France has already said it plans to present a Franco-German position on poverty in the coming weeks.

WHAT CHANGES AND WHY

In its communication of 3 March, the Commission addressed education and poverty on the same basis as employment, research/innovation and the climate, proposing target figures for all. For education, it proposed to reduce to 10%, from 15% at present, the percentage of young people who leave school without qualifications and to raise from 31% to at least 40% the share of those aged 30-34 who have completed post-secondary studies. The position adopted by the heads of state and government proposes simply to improve education levels, in particular by tackling early school leaving and raising the number of graduates. For poverty, the aim of reducing by 25% the number of Europeans living below national poverty thresholds so as to lift 20 million people out of poverty was limited to a general commitment. Certain concerns were expressed. The objective per se is not disputed (everyone is against poverty), but it poses a problem of competences. Some leaders find that, by virtue of subsidiarity, the European Union should not act in this area. "We agreed to continue working to develop this objective," explained European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. …