Official speeches and statements - May 25, 2018
President Kagame and I decided to work together pragmatically on subjects of common interest to our two countries, and there are many. That’s what we discussed at length in our subsequent bilateral meeting. Peace and security in Africa, support for innovation, the climate and the environment, and linguistic and educational issues are a few examples. We in no way underestimate the difficulties of the past and the complexity of the bilateral relationship: on the contrary, I think I can say we’re determined to take on board that complexity, overcome it and think about the future of our young generations, which has to be built together. That’s what we want to move towards; it will probably take time, but I think I can say we’re not just genuinely committed but have a desire to get things done.
What brings us together today, in addition to this week’s meeting on technology and innovation, is peace and security issues in Africa. President Kagame, as serving Chairperson of the African Union, has committed himself personally and resolutely to a reform of the African Union, because there’s a strong belief the President and I absolutely share, namely the need for us Europeans on the one hand, and Africans on the other, to shoulder our responsibilities and our security. And to that end, we also believe in strong multilateralism. (...)
In this regard, I’m convinced that it’s in our collective interest to support the strengthening, and therefore the long-term and predictable funding, of African peace operations. I’ve already committed to this several times, we’ve agreed to work together closely on this essential issue, and incidentally at the beginning of July I’ll be going [to talk] mainly but not solely about it at the African Union summit in Nouakchott, where we’ll therefore have the opportunity to meet again. Rwanda also plays an essential role in peacekeeping on the African continent, and I want to thank it here for its very special commitment.
We discussed several current crises where President Kagame’s role and work is important, and France will support the action carried out with several other states. I’m thinking in particular of the Central African Republic, which more than ever needs all international, regional and national players to mobilize, and we’ve decided to coordinate and consult very closely on this to support the African Union’s action. We’ve agreed to consult one another more to make sure the Central African Republic doesn’t plunge into a new cycle of violence and instability.
We also talked about the situation in the Sahel region - you know how much it’s our priority - where work has also been done very closely with the African Union from the outset. I think we’ve made genuine progress over the past few years through the structuring of the G5 Sahel forces and deployment of the Alliance for the Sahel. But we’d like to do even more, and the African Union’s concrete intervention in terms of troop training and the support initiative is wholly desirable.
We also talked about the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo; I think the position adopted by the African Union and the countries of the region is essential. I’m very committed to it, and I can say here that we constantly share our analyses and positions, and that France supports the initiative taken by the Chairperson of the African Union in close conjunction with the Angolan President. (...)
2. Teaching of French abroad - Reply given by Mr. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly (excerpts) (Paris - May 24, 2018)
You mention one of the issues linked to soft power, and as you know, be it French teaching abroad or Alliances françaises, strong determination has been expressed.
The French President made very clear commitments in his speech to the French community in Tunis in February. He specified that the budget of the AEFE [Agency for French Education Abroad] would be totally ring-fenced in 2018 and 2019, enabling us to hold a discussion with you, members of parliament representing French nationals abroad, with staff and parents, to be even more ambitious for the network. Indeed, the President’s wish is for us to double the number of pupils in French or French-language programs by 2030. In fact, we currently have 350,000 pupils, so you can see this ambition is clear.
Regarding the Alliances françaises, like you I take my hat off to those 800 Alliances carrying out their activities in 132 countries, enabling French to be learnt and France to increase its global reach through culture and innovation. From this point of view, our funding is up to the mark. In 2018, €35 million is being devoted to Alliances françaises, which is exactly in line with what was previously provided.
Moreover, as you know, we’re currently untangling any complex relationships that may exist between the governance structure, the Fondation Alliances françaises, and the Alliances françaises themselves. I think that, thanks to the report by Pierre Vimont, a great servant of the state, we’ll be able to make progress in ensuring that the Alliances françaises are better represented in the governance structure and also get closer to the Institut français, in a format currently being drawn up.
Regarding issues of local taxation, we have a report prepared by Mr. Bur and Mr. Richard, which proposes options. (...)
Q. - What is France’s reaction following the disclosure by Iran’s Spiritual Leader of a list of seven conditions which the European powers will have to comply with if Tehran isn’t to reject, in turn, the 2015 agreement on the Iranian nuclear program?
THE SPOKESPERSON - We’ve noted these statements made by Mr Khamenei.
As Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, reiterated on France Inter on May 23, "the agreement isn’t dead". "A few days ago the Europeans had a meeting, then there was a meeting in Sofia of the heads of state and government of the European Union, which made clear its wishes and its determination to ensure that businesses working with Iran are protected as much as possible, because we haven’t left the agreement and we want to honor it."
Keeping the Europeans in the nuclear agreement above all means that Iran has to continue strictly applying its nuclear provisions. At stake is regional and international security and the integrity of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
Even though the Europeans want to stay in the agreement, this is not to ignore our concerns about Iran, particularly its ballistic program and its direct or indirect military presence in the region. This is why we proposed establishing a comprehensive negotiating framework with Iran. We’d like Iran to understand the interest in having a cooperative approach.
France will continue discussions along these lines with its partners. It will be one of the items discussed during the President’s visit to Saint Petersburg. (...)
Q. - Yesterday evening the Libyan press published photos of the President’s diplomatic adviser and senior diplomats from the Quai d’Orsay with Libyan officials and spoke of an invitation by those diplomats to a conference on Libya in Paris on 29 May. Can you confirm this initiative?
THE SPOKESPERSON - As Mr. Salamé told the Security Council on 21 May, today in Libya there’s an opportunity we must grasp: the channels for dialogue have increased in number and a consensus between Libyan and international players has emerged regarding the organization of elections.
France is sparing no efforts to support the implementation of the road map by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative, in order to achieve a political solution bringing together the various Libyan players on an inclusive basis, particularly to hold a general election in 2018 as an expression of the Libyan people’s sovereignty.
Meeting in Paris on May 24 and 25, 2018, twenty years after the Sorbonne Declaration was signed, we, the Ministers responsible for higher education, wish not only to celebrate the progress made in building the European Higher Education Area over the past two decades, but also to make strong and ambitious commitments for its further development.
We are proud of what the Bologna Process has achieved. We have built something unique: a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) in which goals and policies are agreed upon at European level, and then implemented in national education systems and higher education institutions. This is an area where governments, higher education institutions and stakeholders are shaping the landscape of higher education together; that demonstrates what a joint effort and continuous dialogue among governments and the higher education sector can attain.
Through the EHEA, we have paved the way for large-scale student mobility and improved not only the comparability and transparency of our higher education systems, but also increased their quality and attractiveness. The EHEA has promoted mutual understanding and trust, and has enhanced cooperation among our higher education systems.
Academic freedom and integrity, institutional autonomy, participation of students and staff in higher education governance, and public responsibility for and of higher education form the backbone of the EHEA. Having seen these fundamental values challenged in recent years in some of our countries, we strongly commit to promoting and protecting them in the entire EHEA through intensified political dialogue and cooperation.
Since the Sorbonne and Bologna Declarations, the EHEA higher education systems as well as institutions have undergone major reforms. At a moment when Europe is facing important societal challenges - ranging from unemployment and social inequality to migration-related issues and a rise in political polarisation, radicalisation and violent extremism - higher education can and must play a decisive role in providing solutions to these issues. It must also play a key role in establishing the facts on the basis of which public debates are conducted and decisions made. By providing students and other learners with opportunities for lifelong personal development, higher education enhances their prospects of employment and stimulates them to be active citizens in democratic societies.
We therefore commit to developing policies that encourage and support higher education institutions to fulfill their social responsibility and contribute to a more cohesive and inclusive society through enhancing intercultural understanding, civic engagement and ethical awareness, as well as ensuring equitable access to higher education.
Progress in implementing agreed reforms
As the 2018 Bologna Process Implementation Report shows, progress has been made while implementation remains uneven, both between policy areas and between countries.
Quality assurance is key in developing mutual trust as well as increasing mobility and fair recognition of qualifications and study periods throughout the EHEA. We therefore recognize the progress made in implementing the "Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area" (ESG) into national and institutional practice in most countries, and we commit to removing the remaining obstacles to their implementation in national legislations and regulations. In order to encourage the development of more joint programs and joint degrees, we will also enable and promote the use of the "European Approach for Quality Assurance of Joint Programs" in our higher education systems. We welcome and will promote the development of the Database of External Quality Assurance Results (DEQAR).
In order to further develop mobility and recognition across the EHEA, we will work to ensure that comparable higher education qualifications obtained in one EHEA country are automatically recognized on the same basis in the others, for the purpose of accessing further studies and the labor market. To this end we renew our commitment to ensure full implementation of ECTS, following the guidelines laid down in the 2015 ECTS Users’ guide.
We will work to implement the Council of Europe/UNESCO Lisbon Recognition Convention and its Recommendations, in particular on the recognition of qualifications held by refugees, displaced persons and persons in a refugee-like situation. We also urge the adoption of transparent procedures for the recognition of qualifications, prior learning and study periods, supported by interoperable digital solutions.
We approve the proposed revised Diploma Supplement and commit to working for its adoption in identical versions within the respective frameworks of the Lisbon Recognition Convention and Europass. To further promote student and graduate mobility, we welcome and support initiatives such as the digitalization of the Diploma Supplement, and commit to support higher education institutions to pursue further student data exchange in a secure, machine-readable and interoperable format, in line with data protection legislation. We also note with interest the current "European student card" EU pilot project, which could potentially be broadened to support and facilitate student mobility throughout the entire EHEA.
In many of our systems, ECTS-based short cycle qualifications play an increasingly important role in preparing students for employment and further studies as well in improving social cohesion by facilitating access for many who would otherwise not have considered higher education. We are therefore including short-cycle qualifications as a stand-alone qualification within the overarching framework of qualifications of the EHEA (QF-EHEA). Each country can decide whether and how to integrate short cycle qualifications within its own national framework.
Unlocking the full potential of the EHEA: taking implementation forward
We acknowledge that the reforms driven by the Bologna Process require both successful implementation and full ownership of all of our agreed goals and commitments throughout the EHEA. Fulfilling our commitments depends on the concerted efforts of national policy-makers, public authorities, institutions, staff, students and other stakeholders as well as coordination at EHEA level.
In order to unlock the full potential of the EHEA and ensure the implementation of Bologna key commitments, we are adopting a structured peer support approach based on solidarity, cooperation and mutual learning. In 2018-2020, thematic peer groups will focus on three key commitments crucial to reinforcing and supporting quality and cooperation inside the EHEA:
- a three-cycle system compatible with the overarching framework of qualifications of the EHEA and first and second cycle degrees scaled by ECTS
- compliance with the Lisbon Recognition Convention,
- and quality assurance in compliance with the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area.
We mandate the Bologna follow-up group (BFUG) to implement, coordinate and monitor the adopted peer support approach, and to do so with the aid of the Bologna Implementation Coordination Group established to that end. It will analyse the first round of peer support and through the BFUG suggest the direction that the activity should take in the future, and report back to us at our next EHEA Ministerial conference in 2020.
We encourage the use of the Erasmus+ program for increasing cooperation, beyond mobility, and achieving progress on the key commitments.
Belarus joined the EHEA in 2015 on the basis of an agreed roadmap. We acknowledge that some first reforms have been initiated, but also that substantial challenges remain. We welcome Belarus’ commitment to work with and be supported by partners in the implementation of the proposed strategy for 2018-2020.
Innovation in Learning and Teaching
For the past 20 years, the core mission of the Bologna Process and the main objective of structural reforms have been to ensure and enhance the quality and relevance of learning and teaching. Lifelong learning is increasingly important to our societies and economies as well as to our citizens’ wellbeing. Now it is time to add cooperation in innovative learning and teaching practices as another hallmark of the EHEA. We therefore commit to developing new and inclusive approaches for continuous enhancement of learning and teaching across the EHEA, and can succeed only if we do so in close collaboration with the European higher education community, in full respect of academic freedom and institutional autonomy.
The success of the European Learning and Teaching Forum launched by the European University Association last year demonstrates the value and potential of collaboration in learning and teaching, with tangible benefits for higher education institutions, staff and students.
Therefore, in addition to measures at national level, we will develop joint European initiatives to support and stimulate a wide range of innovative learning and teaching practices, building on existing good practice in our countries and beyond.
This will encompass the further development and full implementation of student-centered learning and open education in the context of lifelong learning. Study programs that provide diverse learning methods and flexible learning can foster social mobility and continuous professional development whilst enabling learners to access and complete higher education at any stage of their lives.
We will support higher education institutions to develop and enhance their strategies for learning and teaching. We also encourage them to provide inter-disciplinary programs as well as to combine academic and work-based learning. Students should encounter research or activities linked to research and innovation at all levels of higher education to develop the critical and creative mind-sets which will enable them to find novel solutions to emerging challenges. In this regard, we commit to improving synergies between education, research and innovation.
Digitalization plays a role in all areas of society and we recognize its potential to transform how higher education is delivered and how people learn at different stages of their lives. We call on our higher education institutions to prepare their students and support their teachers to act creatively in a digitalized environment. We will enable our education systems to make better use of digital and blended education, with appropriate quality assurance, in order to enhance lifelong and flexible learning, foster digital skills and competences, improve data analysis, educational research and foresight, and remove regulatory obstacles to the provision of open and digital education. We call on the BFUG to take the issue of digitalization forward in the next working period.
As high quality teaching is essential in fostering high quality education, academic career progression should be built on successful research and quality teaching. It should also take due account of the broader contribution to society.
We will promote and support institutional, national and European initiatives for pedagogical training, continuous professional development of higher education teachers and explore ways for better recognition of high quality and innovative teaching in their career.
Beyond 2020: a more ambitious EHEA
The EHEA has proved its role as a unique framework for higher education co-operation in Europe. To develop the EHEA further, we will intensify cross-disciplinary and cross-border cooperation as well as develop an inclusive and innovative approach to learning and teaching.
We call on the BFUG to submit proposals in time for our 2020 meeting in order to enable higher education to fully play its role in meeting the challenges faced by our societies.
We will foster and extend integrated transnational cooperation in higher education, research and innovation, for increased mobility of staff, students and researchers, and for more joint study programs throughout the whole EHEA. We take note with interest of the recent EU initiative on European Universities’ and we will encourage all our higher education institutions to work in such new settings. We call on the BFUG to establish interaction with the European Research Area and Innovation Committee (ERAC) by 2020 in order to develop synergies between the EHEA and the European Research Area (ERA).
We commit to developing the role of higher education in securing a sustainable future for our planet and our societies and to finding ways in which we, as EHEA Ministers, can contribute to meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals at global, European and national levels.
As a follow-up to the Bologna Policy Forum, we mandate the BFUG to enter into a global policy dialogue to improve regular cooperation with other regions and international organisations. This dialogue should focus on promoting mutual learning and joint initiatives on issues of common interest, such as social inclusion and the wider role of higher education. We welcome the work on the UNESCO Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications.
We recognize that further effort is required to strengthen the social dimension of higher education. In order to meet our commitment that the student body entering and graduating from European higher education institutions should reflect the diversity of Europe’s populations, we will improve access and completion by under-represented and vulnerable groups. Therefore, we mandate the BFUG to take this issue forward by the next EHEA Ministerial conference.
Preparing the 2020 EHEA Ministerial conference
For our 2020 conference, we mandate the BFUG to develop a Bologna Process Implementation Report assessing the main developments in the EHEA since the Bologna Process began, including to what extent we have fulfilled the mobility target agreed in Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve in 2009.
We also ask the BFUG to submit proposals for the main priorities for the next decade, in close cooperation with higher education institutions, staff and students, and for the governance of the EHEA.
We gratefully accept the offer by Italy to host the next Ministerial conference of the EHEA and the Bologna Policy Forum in 2020.
Structured peer support approach for the implementation of the three Bologna key commitments
Belarus strategy for 2018-2020
Short cycle qualifications as a stand-alone qualification level within the overarching Qualifications Framework of the European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA)
Revised Diploma Supplement, with a recommendation for its adoption in identical form in the respective frameworks of the Lisbon Recognition Convention and Europass.