Amsterdam set to boost exchanges

June 13, 1997

THE FREE movement of students and staff across Europe is likely to be boosted by next week's Amsterdam summit when the European Union finalises a new treaty to promote integration among member states.

Jo Ritzen, minister of education, culture and science for the Netherlands, which holds the European Union presidency, has been pressing for a "knowledge union", arguing that education ministers need to work with ministers for social and economic affairs in developing the EU's "human capital".

Mr Ritzen said this week: "I expect the treaty to contain a preamble on the development of the EU as a knowledge-based society.

"Such a preamble provides an encouragement to work on issues of great importance for our citizens, the competitiveness of Europe, social cohesion and cultural development."

Other education ministers had reacted very positively to the proposal for a "knowledge preamble" in the Amsterdam Treaty, and for improved mobility, he said.

Mr Ritzen is also keen for a debate on expanding education's share of the EU budget. "EU funding of education and research is less than 5 per cent of the EU budget, a rather low figure when compared with the agriculture and structural funds," he said.

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