Europe keen to fortify US ties

July 8, 2005

Detailed talks on increased academic collaboration should follow this month's European Union-US summit in Washington, the European Commission advised.

In a policy paper, the Commission outlines topics for discussion by officials from both sides of the Atlantic. It wants them to draw up plans on a range of objectives that involve "an appropriate mix of non-binding and binding approaches".

Higher education is a key focus, with Brussels eyeing the economic benefits that could spring from increased collaboration between American and European universities and research teams.

The paper calls on the EU and the US to "reinforce" the existing agreement on higher education and vocational training, which expires at the end of 2005.

Brussels wants to increase academic and student exchanges and create guidelines that increase the "compatibility of (both sides') education systems".

Another goal is encouraging lifelong learning. The paper says: "The potential to promote research as well as exchanges of university teachers, researchers and students in areas that contribute to the deepening of EU-US economic relations should be examined."

The programme will be taken forward only with Washington's agreement, but so far the diplomatic signs are positive.

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