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The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) is a common European reference framework. It acts as a translation grid which links countries' qualifications systems/frameworks. It covers qualifications at all levels and in all sub-systems of education and training (general and adult education, vocational education and training as well as higher education). Its main role is to make qualifications more readable and understandable across different countries and systems. In close cooperation with the European Commission, Cedefop provides analytical and coordination support for the implementation of the EQF and carries out a number of comparative studies and analysis on issues related to the implementation of the framework at EU, national and sectoral level.

European Qualifications Framework - a bridge between national qualifications systems - details

The core of the EQF is its eight reference levels defined in terms of learning outcomes, i.e. knowledge, skills and competence. Learning outcomes express what individuals should know, understand and be able to do at the end of a learning process. Countries develop national qualifications frameworks (NQF) to implement the EQF.

Why the EQF is important

Its main role is to make qualifications more readable and understandable across different countries and systems. This is important to support cross-border mobility of learners and workers and lifelong learning across Europe. In the 'Compare qualifications frameworks' page it is possible to see how national qualifications levels of countries that have already finalised their referencing process have been linked to the EQF.

How Cedefop supports EQF implementation

Cedefop has played a key role in all EQF activities since 2003. It has carried out a number of comparative studies and analysis on issues related to the implementation of the framework at EU, national and sectoral level. It cooperates closely with the European Commission and provides technical and analytical support to the EQF Advisory Group - the main body at European level, responsible for providing coherence and transparency of the process of relating national qualifications systems to the EQF.

EQF timelines

The Recommendation on the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council on 23 April 2008.

Two main deadlines have been set for its implementation:
Countries are invited to

  • refer their national qualifications systems to the EQF by 2010;
  • introduce a reference to the EQF levels in all new qualifications certificates and diplomas by 2012.

EQF implementation

The EQF has been the catalyst for development of comprehensive national qualification frameworks based on learning outcomes.  All countries committed to the EQF consider such national frameworks necessary to make their qualifications comparable across sectors and countries.

By July 2015, 25 countries had linked (‘referenced’) their national qualifications levels to the EQF: Austria, Belgium (Flemish and French communities), Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland and the UK. The remaining countries are expected to follow in 2015-16.

More information: EQF documentation

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Slava Pevec Grm
Expert
Qualifications Team

Project details