We are seriously concerned about the short and long-term prospects for education in some southern
and in some young EU member states. Especially in countries under serious economic pressure the
danger of drastic and injudicious decisions is high and may be enhanced by financial pressure from the
EU and undifferentiated cut requests.
We here want to promote an initiative "support-education-eu" expressing our concern about this
situation, advocating for an awareness that maintaining a good overall educational system is to be
seen as a major European program and arguing that the community should assist endangered local
structures and systems.
While social and economic emergencies clearly ask for immediate attention we should remain aware
of the essential importance of education:
- The education system forms a basic element of a healthy society. It helps building up social balance,
it ensures the qualification necessary for jobs, is the provider for high specialization and for research
and is the basis for cultural life, an essential part of the human condition.
- Education must be a general social commodity. We cannot afford losing human potential because of
obstacles in the education system. Social, practical and moral considerations require this system to be
permeable and open, avoiding social differentiation.
- The education system needs careful consideration and maintenance. It is a highly correlated system,
from schools to universities, and failures in one of its components will propagate to the others and
eventually affect all the sectors of a knowledge based society. Education, research and culture cannot
generally be treated according to simple market rules of pointed investment with immediate return.
- Ensuring well functioning systems everywhere in Europe is not in contradiction to the diversity of
interests, needs and possibilities of the different regions. Qualified people are needed all over Europe
and will find employment. Accepting local fluctuations in the economical development to affect the
education systems would be harmful at the European and doubly so at the local level.
There are already a number of European programs supporting the development of research and
education. These instruments, however, are designed to enhance already well functioning systems, not
to cope with critical situations as presently witnessed. In view of the present situation and with concern
regarding its development we consider that a special treatment of education at the European level is
necessary. More specifically:
- We propose an emergency program starting immediately, with increased awareness for the
points above and taking measures against any deterioration of the education systems.
It should commit the governments to ensure the development and functioning of these systems.
It should provide European solidarity, including financial support, related to requests on the
local administrations to avoid dangerous cuts in these systems - "support and commitment".
It should include communication and transfer of expertise.
This program should respect local policies and traditions, but be critical of old or new
- For the middle and long term one should introduce a simple and universal system of European
grants for students at all levels, to ensure participation in good education independently of local
and personal conditions. This could be later supplemented by a network of European high
schools and universities as a complement to the local structures, to act especially in emergency
situations, but also as incentive to local politics. Learning of languages and of the national and
European administrative and political structures should be encouraged.
- One must support and extend "job and school programs" such as "dual education" and similar
measures which serve education and at the same time counteract unemployment of young
people, easing the social pressure. These should involve state and EU support and commit
industry at the local and European level. One must further build up mobility in order to balance
supply and demand for specialized jobs.
We ask the European and national authorities to consider these proposals and further actions in this direction and to find ways to implement them in a European program.
None of the European countries alone can in the long run play a major role in our world –
economically, politically, scientifically or culturally. Only Europe as a community of countries
working together can make a relevant contribution in the future, and it is therefore essential to
strengthen those systems which give Europe strength in its diversity and unity.
This program could be a major step toward a healthy unified Europe, which might be easier to achieve
than through finance or foreign policy. There are at present a number of distinct initiatives addressing
European research or education developments, among others [1-3]. This initiative is more comprehensive and focused
on emergency situations while having a similar motivation. It belongs to the acknowledged European
"Top quality education and training are vital if Europe is to develop as a knowledge society and
compete effectively in the globalized economy. Education policy as such is decided by each EU
country, but together they set joint goals and share best practices." 
A major joint goal in the view of the undersigned must be that of providing the awareness and
instruments for ensuring the development and functioning of the European educational systems
independently of local or temporal conditions.