Introduction To Our Initiative On Citizenship Education
Since ECIT was established in 2016, the Foundation has worked on European citizenship education. We would like to see the EU developing at least a model curriculum for Member States to add a European dimension to their civic education teaching in and out of school. At the 2016 Annual Conference, leaders of a Horizon project which experimented with this theme showed interest in ECIT attempting to frame guidelines for a Statute on European Citizenship. The two go together because in order to achieve a consensus on at least a template for a curriculum, there should already be a better sense of what EU Citizenship is and should become. In the proposal below the two are linked.
Involvement with this topic began with carrying out a detailed investigation for NECE (Networking on European Citizenship Education) of the opportunities for more involvement with the European Union. A report was completed in 2018 and then updated in the following year following the European elections and which mentioned among other recommendations, the possibility of launching an ECI. The idea has been further explored at both the NECE and ECIT annual events.
Another source of inspiration has been a series of workshops during the NECE summer campuses which resulted in the NECE Declaration, the basis for several of the demands in our proposal. A particularly important contribution has been made by an organisation called Values Unite which has argued the case for setting up an agency on European citizenship education. There is therefore a long history and several different proposals behind this ECI. The research paper gives you the references and hopefully will also give you a sense of the important number of resolutions and recommendations by both the European Parliament and the Council on this theme.
Despite all this preparatory work, it has not been easy to frame a proposal which the Commission might accept as within its legal competence. Of course, there is no guarantee that the Commission will give the go ahead to this ECI once it is submitted. The opinion of the forum set up to help organisers and provide legal advice has stressed heavily the restrictive nature of Treaty articles on education which exclude legislative measures and only allow for incentives to support action by Member States which are alone competent in this area. This has encouraged us to search for alternatives. We have come up with the proposal that there could be framework legislation on the basis of Article 25 TFEU, the same legal basis as accepted for the Voters Without Borders ECI and that this should be backed by inserting a European citizenship education clause in existing legislation in the areas mentioned by the CoFoE, as well recommending non-legislative measures. A useful precedent is a one-page European law: Council Directive 77/486/EEC of 25 July 1977 on the education of the children of migrant workers. As we progress with the ECI, more material will be added to this section of the website.