The weekend marked the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which laid the foundations for today’s European Union (EU). On 25 March 1957 six European countries (Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) pledged to align their economic policies for the establishment of a common market, which would reduce socioeconomic differences across Europe.
The Treaty of Rome set up the European Economic Community (EEC) through endorsement of joint policies in distinct areas of interest. Vocational education and training (VET) was explicitly included at social policy level, as stated in Articles 118 and 128. It was specified that the European Commission would promote close cooperation among Member States in matters pertaining to basic and advanced VET.
An economic and social committee, established under the treaty, later proposed setting up the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop).
Sixty years on, the European Union has grown exponentially to include 28 Member States and numerous policy branches. Its commitment to VET remains unwavering and is supported by a steady flow of studies and consultations provided by Cedefop to generate new insights and promote learning for work.
Cedefop Director James Calleja considers the birth of the European Economic and Social Committee as the seed that gave life to European cooperation on VET: ‘For the past 42 years, Cedefop has been, with the European Commission, Member States and social partners, the meeting place of European minds that shaped vocational education and training. Today the foundations for European VET cooperation are laid on solid ground but more work needs to be done to implement European policies which provide citizens with the tools for learning, working and employability. The time is ripe to increase the momentum of transforming words into action.’
As part of the anniversary celebrations, the European Commission and the Republic of Italy organised a Digital Day event on 23 March in Rome. Another event which featured prominently in the anniversary agenda was the Jean Monnet seminar on the future of Europe (also in Rome on 23 and 24 March), which included a Citizens' Dialogue with the Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini.
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