EU Strategy for The Ministry of Education and Research 2004

EU Strategy

The Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research 2004


Since the implementation of the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement in 1994, Norway’s co-operation with the European Union (EU) has generally been strengthened and expanded in a number of areas. The enlargement of the EU from 15 to 25 states and the strengthening of the EU's authority to act on behalf of member states will further contribute to this trend. A key element in this collaboration is the Lisbon Strategy, the EU's plan to make the European economy the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010.

The Lisbon Strategy's focus on knowledge has earned education and research an important position on the EU's political agenda. These areas of policy are considered important contributions to strengthening the competitiveness of European economies. One of main goals of the Lisbon Strategy is to strengthen efforts in the knowledge sector, particularly by promoting quality and efficiency in education and research. The development of a European Research Area (ERA 1European Research Area. The term the European Research and Innovation Area is also used.) is an important policy instrument for achieving the ambitions laid down in the Lisbon Strategy. Under the Lisbon Strategy, the EU states have also agreed on future targets for educational systems in Europe. The EFTA EEA countries participate in these efforts in the fields of both research and education.

As of 1 January 2004, co-ordination of Norway's participation in research co-operation with the EU was transferred from the Ministry of Trade and Industry back to the Ministry of Education and Research. Stronger political focus in the EU on education and research as well as responsibility for co-ordinating Norwegian participation in research co-operation with the EU means the EU is becoming a continuously more central area of operations for the Ministry of Education and Research.

The changes in the EU should be reflected in Norway's education and research policy. In future, it will be especially important to develop relations with the ten new EU member states. The Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research will therefore step up its involvement in these EU programmes, attaching particular importance to:

  • active, broad-based participation in the European learning process;
  • contributing to quality enhancement, internationalisation and network-building in European education and research;
  • taking initiatives in areas in which Norway has special expertise, has achieved results and has gained experience of particular interest;
  • taking advantage of European collaboration on education and research with a view to promoting better quality and innovation at the national level and to ensuring good co-ordination between the national and European level;
  • intensifying contact with the EU's new member states, among other things, trough the new EEA EFTA financial mechanism;
  • helping enhance knowledge about the opportunities for Norway and EU member states inherent in the EEA agreement;
  • monitoring the development of the work on the European constitution, and
  • taking advantage of EEA co-operation in bilateral contexts

The framing of educational policy is a national matter in the EU. EU member states’ agreement on future goals for education and research does not mean they subscribe to the same policy. It is up to the individual states to determine which instruments are most appropriate for helping them achieve common goals.

To follow up the Norwegian government's European Policy Platform and in the light of education trends in the EU, the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research adopted an EU Strategy in 2002. This document is a revision of that strategy. The goal is to create a working document that can serve as a useful management tool for the Ministry's EU work.


The efforts to achieve the Lisbon Strategy's main objectives identify education as a crucial target area and policy instrument. A special report on education was presented at the 2004 spring summit for European heads of state and government. Several working groups are currently addressing the challenges the EU faces on the path to achieving its educational policy objectives, and the groups include Norwegian participants. The various educational policy objectives involved in this work all belong under a framework known as life-long and life-wide learning 2The concept life-long learning is valid at the international level and reflects the need for individuals to update their competence throughout their lives as a prerequisite for actively participating and getting involved in working life and the community. The term life-wide learning also expresses that there are different types of learning that take place in many arenas outside the education system, e.g. the workplace, the civil sphere and the private sphere.. As from 2004, the Lisbon Strategy, the Copenhagen Declaration and Life-long Learning will be integrated into a single process.

With its focus on prior experiential learning (the combination of formal, informal and non-formal learning), Norway is well advanced in terms of the ‘learning for life’ dimension, and aspires to emphasise this more in its co-operation with the EU. As for the ‘life-long’ dimension, one clear objective is to concentrate more on learning among children and young people, at the same time as devoting more attention to and demonstrating more appreciation for adults' experiential competence in working life. These overarching objectives are the basis of Norway's participation in the various EU working groups.

The Lisbon Strategy: Future objectives for educational and training systems in Europe

EU ministers of education have agreed on three major goals to be achieved by 2010:

  • Increase the quality and effectiveness of education and training systems in the European Union;
  • Ensure that everyone has access to education and training systems;
  • Open education and training systems to the wider world.

These objectives are largely commensurate with Norway’s political objectives and priorities.

Organisation of the work

The work with the Lisbon Strategy will be based on the open method of co-ordination 3The method entails that the states arrive at a voluntary agreement on the ranking of priorities and on providing information about the attainment of objectives. The states themselves decide which policy to pursue to achieve the common objectives. Thus this approach is fundamentally different from that based on directives.. Groups have been appointed to set specific targets based on indicators and test results, as well as to adopt regular reporting routines. The groups will address the following areas: Teachers' education, basic skills, foreign languages, ICT in education, recruitment to mathematics and natural science disciplines, the use of resources, mobility, open learning environments and collaboration between education and industry. A special group has been appointed to monitor the use of indicators in all the working groups. This group serves as a reference group for the others. Norway is participating in all the working groups. The first reports were presented for the 2004 spring summit.

Norway’s objectives

  • To propose indicators to the individual working groups in areas of national and European interest;
  • To render Norwegian policy visible by submitting proposals for good practice in areas in which Norway is well advanced.

Policy instruments

  • Ensure relevant participation in the working groups when it comes to the development of new policy;
  • Based on co-ordination within the Ministry of Education and Research, ensure that Norway's representatives behave consistently and concertedly in the various groups;
  • Formulate a plan for Norway's national follow up of the Lisbon Strategy;
  • Make an ongoing evaluation of the groups' work and the scope of involvement in the Lisbon Strategy;
  • Organise conferences in key areas;
  • Make active use of the national and Nordic networks, social partners, etc.;
  • Obtain reliable basic material to report to the groups.

The Copenhagen Declaration: co-operation on vocational education and training

In the light of the Copenhagen Declaration adopted by the ministerial meeting in Copenhagen in December 2002, Norway joined the European co-operation on vocational education and training. Three technical working groups were appointed to develop:

  • a single framework for transparency of competences and qualifications;
  • a system of credit transfer for vocational education and training (VET);
  • common criteria and principles for quality in European VET.

Organisation of the work

A special group will facilitate co-ordination among participating states and ensure the technical groups' work is in accordance with overarching objectives and consistent with the Lisbon Strategy. The Ministry of Education and Research is participating in the co-ordination group and the group for quality assurance in vocational education.

Norway’s objectives

  • To ensure recognition of vocational training in the EU;
  • To make it easier to get foreign education and training recognised in Norway;
  • To take initiatives to enhance efforts related to qualifications and quality assurance in basic education in Norway;
  • To influence the development of new schemes and systems for quality, mobility and the documentation of competence in accordance with Norwegian interests.
  • To ensure consistency between reference levels (credits/points) in vocational qualifications, the new Norwegian curricular structure in basic education, and the ECTS 4The European Credit Transfer System in higher education;
  • To establish a uniform National Reference Point to deal with vocational training and mobility within and outside Norway for qualified workers, and to ensure the work with the management of Europass (operator: The National Institute of Technology, Norway), NARIC 5The National Academic Recognition Information Centre and EURES 6The European Employment Services is co-ordinated effectively at the contact point.

Policy instruments

  • Contribute to the development of indicators and systems through participation and network building;
  • Ensure satisfactory follow-up of the process through close co-operation within the ministry and with players in the sector, the social partners and the Ministry of Labour and Government Administration;
  • Sustain the focus on vocational education and training in accordance with the Lisbon Strategy, especially through the working groups responsible for neighbouring areas;
  • Develop bilateral co-operation with countries that have chosen solutions of interest to Norway, regardless of whether the solutions are similar or different;
  • Exploit the opportunities inherent in the Leonardo da Vinci programmes to support the objectives of the Copenhagen Declaration;
  • Co-ordinate Nordic efforts to follow up the Copenhagen Declaration.

The recognition of training in professions regulated by law

The EU has special regulations that apply to the recognition of training in professions that are regulated by law. This is not defined as educational co-operation, and the regulations are laid down through directives . The directives are enacted through national legislation. Pursuant to the EEA agreement, these directives also apply to Norway. The EU Commission has proposed a new directive that will supersede all existing directives in this field. The proposal is now being discussed by a working group under auspices of the Council.

Organisation of the work

The Ministry of Education and Research is Norway’s national co-ordinator for the general directives and also represents Norway on EFTA's working group for the recognition of professional training.

Norway’s objectives

  • To safeguard Norway’s national interests in all professions that are regulated by law and fall within the Ministry’s sphere of operations;
  • To promote Norway’s national interests in relation to the new directive, especially as regards the recognition of qualifications in medical and paramedical professions;
  • To ensure the processing of all applications for recognition of qualifications in professions regulated by law.

Policy instruments

  • Co-operate with Nordic colleagues on the working group under the auspices of the Council;
  • Improve co-operation between Norwegian qualification recognition authorities;
  • Clarify how the new directive should be implemented.

The EU's educational programmes 7Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, Erasmus Mundus and eLearning

The educational programmes Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci aspire to:

  • enhance co-operation among European educational institutions;
  • promote additional mobility for pupils, apprentices, students and teachers;
  • strengthen foreign language training;
  • develop innovative ideas in education and teaching materials.

The programmes cover educational and training systems from ‘cradle to grave' and mainly consist of two elements: 1) exchanges and 2) different types of projects and activities involving co-operation among several different countries. The specific professional direction of the major projects varies from year to year, and the detailed objectives are adopted by the Commission in collaboration with the programme committees. The educational programmes' targets increasingly support the objectives linked to the Lisbon process, as well as to the Bologna process 8The Bologna process embraces collaboration among more than 30 countries, including the EU states. The main purpose of the process is to enhance student and teacher mobility, and thereby to facilitate a European Area for Higher Education. The Bologna Declaration has a far-reaching impact on participating states, owing inter alia to signatories' agreement that degree systems be mutually readable and comparable (Diploma Supplement) and be based on two main cycles. Mobility shall also be promoted; there will be collaboration on quality assurance, etc. The EU programmes provide substantial financial support for this process. (Socrates) and the Copenhagen Declaration (Leonardo da Vinci). The educational programmes also support activities such as the European Year of Language in 2001, the European Year of the Handicapped in 2003 and the European Year for Education through Sports in 2004.

The EU has also adopted the Erasmus Mundus and the eLearning-programme, starting up in 2004. The overall objective of the Erasmus Mundus programme is to foster increased co-operation with countries outside the EU EEA Area. The overall dimension for the eLearning-programme is to promote and arrange for effective use of ICT in education and vocational training systems in Europe. Norway participates in both of these programmes.

Organisation of the work

Both educational programmes are run by the Commission with the assistance of the programme committees and subcommittees, where all signatories are represented. The programme operators in charge of routine operations in Norway are: The Centre for International University Co-operation (SIU) for Socrates and the National Institute of Technology, Norway (TI) for Leonardo da Vinci.

Norway’s objectives

  • To increase exchanges under the programmes, i.e. the number of foreigners who come to Norway and the number of Norwegians who travel abroad, and otherwise strengthen educational collaboration;
  • Insofar as possible, to ensure the national relevance of pilot projects and promote Norwegian co-ordination of more projects in general;
  • To increase participation in joint actions;
  • To use the programmes to a greater extent as 'tools' to achieve future targets;
  • Through ERASMUS, to make it possible for more students to get foreign studies recognised as part of Norwegian degrees.

Policy instruments

  • Draw up an EEA memorandum on the new educational programme;
  • Follow up the results of the national mid-way evaluation and, in collaboration with the operators, examine specific opportunities for increasing recruitment to and the relevance of the programmes;
  • Take part in the discussion on new educational programmes up to 2007;
  • In collaboration with the operators, develop Norway's ongoing co-operation with the EU’s new member states;
  • Use the Leonardo da Vinci programme to actively follow up the Copenhagen Declaration;
  • More effective utilisation of EEA special committees for education;
  • Use the Socrates programme and ERASMUS to achieve the Bologna objectives;
  • In collaboration with the operators and the Norwegian Board of Education, develop strategies to pass on experience gained from the programmes, so that it can to a greater extent be adopted by others and applied in national policy making;
  • ·
  • Convert the subcommittees to programme committees as from 2004;
  • In collaboration with the operators, encourage the initiation of projects under the programmes and thus encourage national development work.


The European Research Area (ERA), the Barcelona Declaration on the three per cent target and the EU's framework programme for research are the three central elements of the EU's research policy under the Lisbon Strategy. In addition, the European Action for GROWTH was incorporated into the Lisbon Strategy in December 2003.

The Lisbon Strategy and the European Research Area (ERA)

Research is fundamental to economic growth, innovation and employment. Research plays a key role in the Lisbon Strategy for making Europe the most competitive knowledge-based region in the world. The strategy emphasises the development of a European Research Area as an important policy instrument for achieving the targets.

Main goals of the ERA:

  • consolidate research efforts and better exploit research potential through improve co-ordination at the European level to enhance the competitiveness of European industry and the quality of life for European citizens;
  • boost investment in research;
  • augment recruitment to research, researcher mobility and the emphasis on quality.

The ERA is highly relevant for Norwegian research and innovation policy. As a full-fledged participant in the EU's sixth framework programme for research and in several major European basic research organisations 9For example, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Norway is very interested in contributing to the development of the ERA. The strong emphasis on integration through policy instruments such as Integrated Projects, Networks for Centres of Excellence, the ERA-NET scheme, the application of Article 169 of the Treaty of Rome and the use of technology platforms represent formidable challenges for the Norwegian research system and have put interaction between national and European research systems on the agenda in a whole new way. Further, the internationalisation of Norwegian research through the ERA calls for far more interaction among Norwegian players and between the worlds of academia and industry.

TheBarcelonaDeclaration on increasing research spending to three per cent of GDP

At the meeting of the European Council in Barcelona in 2002, the European heads of state agreed that investments in research and development should be stepped up to achieve a target of three per cent of GDP by 2010 (1.9 per cent in 2000). This increase will also call for an increase in the business community's investments in research to account for 2/3 of total research spending. A plan of action has been drawn up for achieving this goal. CREST (Comité de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique) has been assigned a special role for following this up and has therefore established working groups in the following fields:

  • publicly funded research and links to business/industry;
  • small and medium-sized enterprises and research;
  • intellectual rights and research;
  • publicly funded research and policy-making.

In addition, a group has been established to examine mobility and human resources. Norway participates in all the groups.

The EU's 6th framework programme for research and technology

One of the paramount objectives of the EU's 6 th> framework programme for research and technology (2002-2006) is to contribute to enhancing the quality of life for European citizens and to improving the competitiveness of European industry. The framework programme will also help develop the European Research Area.

The EU's framework programme for research and technology is the most important policy instrument for achieving the goal of establishing the ERA. The framework programme is the largest Norwegian programme initiative under the EEA agreement. It is also the most comprehensive international research co-operation in which Norway participates.

The framework programme has a total budget of roughly NOK 130 billion. The budget for the framework programme will increase with the enlargement to include the new EU member states.

The framework programme accounts for roughly five per cent of the public research allocations in Europe. The introduction of a European Research Area is intended to promote better co-operation on the remaining 95 per cent of public funding. The 6th framework programme contains both project and network funding and will contribute to the integration, enhancement and structuring of the ERA. The 6th framework programme (6RP) encompasses seven thematic priorities, with considerable importance attached to interdisciplinary project collaboration that spans the full range from basic to applied research. Quality is a paramount criterion for allocations to research projects and networks. One prerequisite for the establishment of the ERA is that the countries that participate in the framework programme follow up with their own national initiatives with a view to enhancing co-ordination and gradually opening national programmes. Thus the ERA goes beyond the framework programme and impacts national research policy.

Norway is engaged in broad-based participation in this research through universities, research institutions and industry. The slant of the framework programme gives important signals about research challenges in the international arena which may be of importance for national research policy.

Further follow up within the EU

The meeting of European heads of state in spring 2003 underscored the need for specific actions in the member countries to achieve the goal of spending three per cent of GDP on research by 2010 and emphasised the need to strengthen the European Research Area. The open method of co-ordination will be an important policy instrument for accomplishing this. CREST, the EU's research and technology committee that advises the Commission and the Council of Ministers, has been charged with an important task in this respect (see also section 3.2).

The spring 2004 meeting will emphasise the importance of research and innovation. The EU Commission's long-term budget contains a proposal for a substantial increase in research. The first discussions of the 7th framework programme will begin in 2004. The 7th framework programme will be adopted in 2006 and the first calls for proposals will be issued in 2007. Norway's participation in every new framework programme is contingent on a decision by the Storting (Norwegian parliament). The Ministry of Education and Research will discuss the process and content of contributions to the 7th framework programme and other research initiatives with other relevant players on an ongoing basis, inter alia, through the EEA Special Committee and with the Research Council.

Discussions regarding the need for a European Research Council for Basic Research were initiated during the Danish presidency of the EU. A proposal to this effect will be presented in 2004.

Organisation of the work, objectives and policy instruments

The Research Department is responsible for co-ordinating Norwegian participation in research co-operation under the 6th framework programme, participation in the ERA and Norway's follow up of the Lisbon Strategy in the field of research.

Organisation of the work

The Ministry of Education and Research bears the overall responsibility for Norwegian research policy as well as the national responsibility for co-ordinating the framework programme and Norwegian participation in the ERA. The EU's target of three per cent research spending is not a binding target for the EU. CREST has been assigned an important role for following up the open method of co-ordination and Norway is participating in these efforts. The Ministry of Education and Research heads the Norwegian delegation to the EU's Research Policy Committee and CREST, and is represented on several programme committees under the framework programme and related working groups and committees. As a link in its responsibility for co-ordinating Norwegian participation in the framework programme, the Ministry of Education and Research chairs the EEA Special Committee for Research, where all of the ministries responsible for EU research are represented. The Ministry of Education and Research also chairs the Norwegian delegation to EFTA's EEA working groups for research. Norway participates in roughly 15 programme committees under the framework programme, in addition to a number of other standing fora and expert groups.

The Research Council of Norway is responsible for the practical adaptation and implementation of the framework programme in Norway. The Research Council regularly compiles statistics on Norwegian participation as they are made available by the Commission.

Norwegian objectives

  • Ensure that Norwegian research groups are able to benefit from and participate in European research co-operation and in the European Research Area;
  • Participate in the dialogue on European research policy with a view to promoting Norwegian interests and gaining insight into the ranking of priorities at the European level as a link in the development of Norwegian research policy ;
  • Use European research collaboration to enhance the quality of Norwegian research (cf. Centres of Excellence, the Abel Prize and the Holberg Prize) and encourage such research communities in a European context;
  • Strengthen the bonds between national and international research co-operation, e.g. by improving interaction between thematic priorities and forms of co-operation in Norway and Europe;
  • Ensure Norwegian participation in the EU's efforts to promote the recruitment of researchers and researcher mobility, including the recruitment of more women, e.g. through affiliation with the EU's new Researcher's Mobility Portal;
  • Render Norwegian research and infrastructure visible in a European context, e.g. by including Norway in the dialogue on research infrastructure in Europe and through participation in the European Strategy Forum on Infrastructure.

Policy instruments

  • Use the Norwegian government's research committee as a political forum for discussing central issues related to participation in and the development of European research policy;
  • Co-ordinate Norwegian contributions to the EU Commission on relevant research policy documents and priorities for the 7th framework programme;
  • Use Norway's participation in the EU's research and technology committee (CREST), EFTA's research group, the programme committees and other committees and working groups to engage in dialogue with the EU on research policy;
  • Use the Research Council as a source of information, avenue of communication and to provide advice and guidance to Norwegian research communities;
  • Help ensure the ERA forum under the auspices of the Research Council of Norway develops into an active Norwegian meeting place for the exchange of experience and information;
  • Use the research liaison office in Brussels for the dissemination of information on research policy and professional development in the EU system, as well as to develop the Norwegian Research and Innovation Forum in Brussels;
  • Develop stronger networks of individuals in the Commission, the Parliament and the Council of Ministers, not least through the research liaison office in Brussels, the Norwegian Forum for Research and Innovation in Brussels, national experts, the committee network and other expert networks in which Norway participates;
  • Use the Nordic Council of Ministers as an arena for discussing joint initiatives and contributions to European collaboration;
  • Strive to get more national experts and 'stagiaires' (apprentices) into the EU Commission, especially DG Research, and ensure a satisfactory funding scheme for them;
  • Work to promote a gradual opening of national programmes, inter alia, through the EU's ERA network;
  • Help ensure that Norwegian research groups are adequately represented in Brussels, not least by considering the establishment of a project office;
  • Conduct regular evaluations of Norway's participation in and use of the framework programmes, as was done for Norwegian participation in the 4th and 5th framework programmes. In collaboration with other relevant players, the Ministry of Education and Research will follow up the recommendations from the evaluation of the 5th framework programme. These include:
    1. The need to create synergies between national programmes and the EU's research programmes;
    2. Opportunities to develop mechanisms for 'harvesting knowledge' resulting from Norway's participation in EU research;
    3. The national advice and information apparatus.