Europe 2020: Will Higher Education in the European Union be a Catalyst for a More Dynamic, Prosperous Economy?

Europe 2020: Will Higher Education in the European Union be a Catalyst for a More Dynamic, Prosperous Economy?

Valerie A. Storey (University of Central Florida, USA) and Brendan M. Richard (University of Central Florida, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4498-4.ch003
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Abstract

This chapter seeks to enhance academic and policy-maker understanding of the European Union’s (EU) evolving higher education system by providing context and an overview of some of the major higher education initiatives currently being implemented as EU higher education adapts to turbulent economies, unstable political systems, and rapidly changing social structures. The recognition that higher education is the driver of a country’s knowledge-based economy has impacted higher education policies at a national and supranational level. Divergence among the EU member states in their organization of higher education, and the emergence of challenges which go beyond national frontiers, has proved the catalyst for developing a cohesive policy and strategy for EU higher education delivery. Initial efforts to increase European influence in national higher education policy began with the Sorbonne Declaration (1998) and continued with the Bologna Declaration (1999), the Lisbon Strategy (2000), and finally the EU 2020 strategy (2010).
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The Eu Political Context

To fully understand EU higher education policy it is necessary to understand 20th-century European history. After the immense destruction of World War II the overall European target was to create a common zone with economic and political integration. European politicians wanted, above all, to end international strife, foster social harmony, and promote economic well-being (Dinan, 2004). The six founding members (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) launched the EU by signing a treaty in 1951 to establish the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), and a second treaty in 1957 to establish the European Economic Community (EEC). These six countries took a leap of faith by agreeing to exercise some of their powers in common. The treaties establishing the EEC sought to establish a common market in which goods, capital, services, and people could move freely from one EEC country to another.

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