The proposals discussed in this opinion form the second package of proposals launched for the development of a European Education Area – the proposal on the automatic mutual recognition of diplomas, on early childhood education and care and on the teaching and learning of languages. The EESC welcomes the setting up of a European Education Area, given its contribution towards the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and in promoting amongst others Europe's social, economic and demographic development. It encourages however to incorporate this initiative within a long-term vision for education, training and lifelong learning, based on effective social dialogue.
- welcomes the proposals' contribution towards guaranteeing the right to quality and inclusive education, training and lifelong learning, as enshrined by the European Pillar of Social Rights;
- emphasises that education, training and lifelong learning should help promote amongst others democratic citizenship and common European values, and equip both young people and adults with the necessary skills to secure decent jobs;
- underlines that the European Education Area should act towards integrating migrants and refugees in education and employment, whilst emphasising the issue of recognition and validation of work experiences and certificates;
- welcomes the investment foreseen by the proposal on language learning to address the lack of qualified language teachers; emphasises that language learning should target everyone, both learners within compulsory education and beyond, and be considered within the context of formal, non-formal and informal learning;
- reiterates the need for high-quality and financially accessible early childhood education and care (ECEC); calls for action to enhance the professional development of ECEC staff, the attractiveness of the profession, and to address the issue of gender imbalance in this sector;
- emphasises that action in the area of automatic recognition should be geared towards the recognition of periods spent abroad in formal, non-formal and informal learning; reminds of the role played by various stakeholders, amongst others civil society, in the recognition of learning outcomes; calls for the full implementation of the learning outcomes principle to achieve automatic recognition.