Third European Education Summit: Digital Education Transformation – Event highlights

We should give a round of applause to our teachers. They embrace the challenge of keeping classrooms open digitally, and give pupils and parents across the continent the chance to continue with a normal life, at least to a certain extent

– European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen.

Throughout 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted European education and training provision at all levels, affecting more than 100 million learners and teachers across Europe. Today, recovery is an opportunity to build together a resilient, sustainable, digital and inclusive European Education Area benefitting all.

European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, addresses the 2020 European Education Summit

Building resilience in the European Education Area

At the Third European Education Summit on 10 December 2020, 55 political leaders – including:

  • representatives of European Union (EU) institutions
  • 15 national ministers
  • education professionals 
  • and civil society representatives from across Europe

gathered virtually to discuss the digital transformation of Europe’s education systems in the context of the COVID-19 recovery.  Stakeholders exchanged best practices in mitigating the effects of COVID-19 on education and training provision. They also provided feedback on the Commission’s vision to create a European Education Area by 2025 and to implement the Digital Education Action Plan from 2021 to 2027. This first fully online edition of the Education Summit embraced the opportunities presented by digital technologies to reach an ever-wider European and worldwide audience.

The underlying message was of education as the foundation for our shared European future. 

Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, makes his opening statement.

Towards a European Education Area by 2025

European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, highlighted key efforts that will be needed to continually progress the transformation of European education in the coming years:

  • testing and inspiring cooperation within learning communities and beyond through the work of the European Universities Alliances 
  • sharing pedagogical practices and establishing networks to help teachers develop their competences, for example through 25 new Erasmus teachers’ academies 
  • cooperation and the exchange of knowledge among sectors and across borders
  • mobilising the education community in support of climate neutrality and sustainable development through the new Education for Climate Coalition and a dedicated platform fostering exchange and innovation

The Digital Education Action Plan, launched in September 2020, will also prove crucial to creating new education and training opportunities and overcoming inequalities related to the availability of digital technologies, the skills required to master them and to make the most of the opportunities they provide. 

We have the collective duty to put in place policies that close the gaps


 – Sabine Verheyen, MEP.

Commissioner Gabriel took the opportunity of the 2020 Education Summit to announce a new European prize for innovative teaching. Plans were also made public for a feasibility study to assess the creation of a new platform disseminating European education materials, contributing towards improving the quality of digital education across Europe, as well as fostering cooperation between stakeholder communities. 

European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel asks Member States to put education at the heart of their COVID-19 recovery plans.

Next steps

Through the Next Generation EU initiative and the EU’s long-term budget for the period 2021-2027, the Union will direct more funds than ever into education and training through a number of programmes. This includes a stronger, more inclusive, innovative, green and digital Erasmus+ programme, the Horizon Europe programme and the European Social Fund. Throughout 2021, a new agenda for higher education transformation will be co-created with stakeholders and Member States, beginning with an Open Public Consultation on the future of European higher education.

Source: European Commission

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European Higher Education Organization is a public organization carrying out academic, educational and information activities on higher education in Europe.

The EHEO general plan stresses that:

  • Higher education systems require adequate funding and, as an investment in economic growth, public spending in higher education should be protected.
  • The challenges faced by higher education require more flexible governance and funding systems, which balance greater autonomy for education institutions with accountability to stakeholders.

Thus, EHEO plans:

  • improve academic and scientific interaction of universities;
  • protect the interests of universities;
  • interact more closely with public authorities of European countries;
  • popularize European higher education in the world;
  • develop academic mobility;
  • seek funding for European universities.