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Books. Education and Training in the European Union
Education and Training in the European Union
Andreas MoschonasAshgate1999176 pp.ISBN: 1840140674£39.50, hardback
Keywords: European Union, Training, Education
Much of the crisis which brought about the resignation of the European Commission headed by Jacques Santer centred on the technical assistance office for the European Union Leonardo vocational training programme, and the activities of Edith Cresson, the Commissioner responsible for education, training and youth. What few people asked at the time was why the EU is involved in education and training in the first place. Education and Training in the European Union, by Andreas Moschonas, provides some answers.
Moschonas explains that the so-called "social dimension" of the EU represents a natural complement to the completion of the single European market, which is based firmly in economics. As Jacques Santer claims:
The European social dimension is what allows competition to flourish between undertakings and individuals on a reasonable and fair basis, and so any attempt to give new depth to the Common Market which neglected this social dimension would be doomed to failure.
European education and training programmes, beginning with Erasmus, Petra and Comett and now embracing Leonardo and Socrates, make it easier for young people to experience the reality of Europe through various forms of co-operation. These include training periods in firms in other EU member states, university courses in other EU countries and exchanges. All are thought to foster understanding of other European societies and cultures, encourage co-operation between education and research institutions and the world of work and pave the way for creation of an employment area on an EU-wide scale.
By opening up new experiences to young people, European education programmes can improve the quality of the European workforce and so help to enhance the competitiveness of the European economy. The programmes can also help to forge a European cultural identity - or at least enable young Europeans to regard the cultures of neighbouring countries with less suspicion.
Moschonas argues that the EU, being mainly defined by the requirements of economic integration, has followed a utilitarian approach to education and training conducive to the "good" functioning of the single internal market. But too little money has been made available to EU education and training programmes to bring about a true improvement in the quality of the European labour force compared with, say, that of Japan or the USA.
Moreover, there is a structural discrepancy between the unified rules of operation of the education and training programmes and the uneven development of the EU member states. These discrepancies have combined to reproduce existing regional and social inequalities and so have perpetuated the fragmentation of the European labour market.
There is also an important political factor. It can be illustrated by the fact that, while the member states are inclined eventually to agree on common EU rules for the recognition of certificates and diplomas, they seem unwilling to give their consent for EU intervention in the evaluation of their education systems and institutions. Moschonas argues that these discrepancies cannot easily be solved as long as the political form of the EU remains an open question. The pace of political integration will ultimately condition the EU's competence in the fields of education and training.
This interesting thesis is put forward in a mere 100 pages of text. Moschonas has avoided the temptation to devote large amounts of space to describing and analysing each of the EU education and training programmes in detail.
Nevertheless, the book is not easy to read. The text is dense and the expression academic rather than journalistic. The book's main appeal, then, will be to researchers and academics in the field of European education and training policy, rather than a more general reader.