Answer by Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD)
Two aspects ought to guide decision-making in future: Firstly, we have the promise, made during the 1997 Lisbon Recognition Convention, to simplify mutual recognition of foreign academic achievements and degrees. Secondly, we need to integrate the opportunities created by digitalisation in learning content and teaching methods in the area of education in a more targeted and consistent manner. A European Education Area and the European Higher Education Area will only be able to reach their full potential if freedom of movement is guaranteed for the greatest extent possible for both teachers and students alike. This would be possible if decisions about locations are based on the research, teaching or educational priorities alone and are not hindered by language barriers or administrative obstacles. For us Social Democrats, neither national borders nor prolonged administrative procedures should come in the way of mobility in education, teaching and research or the cooperation of universities. This requires more courage in educational cooperation! With the European Education Area initiatives and the renewed EU agenda for higher education, the EU Commission has put forward ground-breaking proposals which encompass improved language learning, a digital action plan, recognition mechanisms and targeted funding for the innovation capacity of universities. While respecting the responsibility of member states for learning content and shaping the relevant education systems as well as the diversity of their cultures and languages, we must succeed in agreeing on common ambitious and binding educational goals, with a view to ensuring that universities generate the skills in demand in the future at a high level.
In terms of European Universities, we recommend the funding of European university networks that should be structured according to the bottom-up principle with a broad geographical reach, with the result that all regions of Europe benefit. This cooperation will benefit research, teaching and innovation throughout the European Education Area. To this end, a special focus must be placed on the accessibility and inclusiveness of the universities. The revival of the Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe programmes makes such networks and better interlinking of teaching and research possible.