Emerald Group Publishing Limited
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Breakthrough on Socrates
Keywords Learning, Europe, Policy
The European Parliament and Council of Ministers have reached agreement on the European Union (EU) Socrates II Education Programme. The accord means funding of 1.85 billion euros for the programme between 2000 and 2006, with a review to deal with the financial repercussions of EU enlargement. The budget tops the council's original offer of 1.55 billion euros by 300 million euros, and follows an appeal from Graham Lane, Local Government Association Education Executive Chairman, to Education Secretary David Blunkett over the level of funding. The European Parliament had wanted 2.4 billion euros.
Innovations under the Socrates II programme include greater attention to lifelong learning, and initiating European centres of knowledge to bring together the key players in, and beneficiaries of, EU education, training and youth programmes. The programme has been streamlined by limiting the number of activities and decentralizing national-level management as much as possible.
Euro MPs have secured agreement to simplify the selection procedures, to ensure that projects cannot be held up for more than two weeks in the event of any disagreement lodged by a member state. No time limit was set in the original proposals, which would have meant that projects could have been delayed for up to two months.