Brussels, 24 February 2006
10th Council Meeting - Education, Youth and Culture. Brussels, 23 February 2006
The Council held a policy debate on a Commission communication on "The European indicator of language competence", covering, in particular, the following topics:
- the approach outlined in the Commission communication towards the establishment of the European indicator of language competence (EILC);
- the establishment of an advisory board composed of a representative of each Member State whose initial mandate would be to clarify/define the parameters for implementation;
- as regards the main parameters for the EILC:
(i) the level of the International standard classification of education (ISCED) at which data should be gathered on competences in first and second foreign languages from a representative sample of pupils in education and training;
(ii) because respect for linguistic diversity is a core value of the European Union, the indicator should be based upon data concerning the knowledge of all the official languages of the European Union taught as foreign languages in the Union, but for practical reasons it would be advisable, in the first round of data-gathering, for tests to be made available in those official languages of the European Union that are most widely taught in the Member States, to the extent that they provide a sufficiently large sample of testees.
The debate was aimed at giving a clearer picture of the practical and financial arrangements needed to implement the indicator.
The delegations broadly agreed with the practical approach proposed by the Commission as well as with the creation of an advisory board to define the parameters of the indicator.
Concerning the main parameters for the EILC, there were different opinions concerning the level of education for the evaluation, as some delegations would prefer a higher level.
A number of delegations could not accept limiting the first round of data gathering to the more widely taught languages EU wide. Some delegations recalled that in their countries there is more than one national language and that those specificities should be taken into account to ensure comparability of date in the first round.
In its communication (11704/05), the Commission states that:
"At the European Council meeting in Barcelona, heads of state and government called for the establishment of a European indicator of language competence. (…)The final objective is to provide Member States with hard data on which any necessary adjustments in their approach to foreign language teaching and learning can be based."
The Commission invites the Council to agree with the approach outlined in the Communication concerning the implementation of the European indicator of language competence.
The indicator should also be seen in the context of the range of indicators that Member States have agreed to develop though the "Education and training 2010" process.
New framework strategy for multilingualism
The Commission presented its communication on "A new framework strategy for multilingualism" (14908/05).
The communication, the first one on this policy area,
- reaffirms the Commission's commitment to multilingualism in the European Union;
- sets out the Commission's strategy for promoting multilingualism in European society, in the economy and in the Commission itself; and
- proposes a number of specific actions stemming from this strategic framework.
Multilingualism is defined in the communication as the new field of Commission policy that promotes a climate that is conducive to the full expression of all languages, in which the teaching and learning of a variety of languages can flourish. The communication further states that the Commission's multilingualism policy has three aims:
- to encourage language learning and promoting linguistic diversity in society - to promote a healthy multilingual economy, and - to give citizens access to European legislation, procedures and information in their own languages.
News release 6150/06 (Presse 42)