Prior to the Europe 2020 Strategy, the Lisbon Strategy (2000-2010) sought to make the
European Union "the world's most competitive and dynamic
knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustaining growth
with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion", by
The Lisbon Strategy and higher education
The Lisbon Strategy's goal emerged from the Lisbon European Council
summit of March 2000, where Heads of State agreed that substantial
modernisation of Europe's education and training systems was
necessary if Europe wanted to become a world leader in this field.
Subsequently, it was decided that, by 2010, Member States would
improve the quality and effectiveness of EU education and
ensure that they are accessible to all, and
open up education and training to the wider world.
In terms of higher education, the Lisbon Strategy implied that
it was necessary to:
enhance quality in HE across Europe,
remove barriers to student and teacher mobility,
promote lifelong learning and guidance, and
encourage language learning.
Since the required polices fell almost exclusively within the
sphere of competence of the Member States, an intergovernmental
framework for cooperation was adopted, known as the open method of coordination (OMC). This
entails the development of national action plans, where Member
States are evaluated by one another (through peer pressure) and the
Commission's role is limited to surveillance. OMC rests on
mechanisms such as guidelines and indicators, benchmarking, and
sharing of good practice.
Modernisation agenda for higher education
In 2006, the European Commission issued a Communication entitled:
'Delivering on the modernisation agenda for
universities: education, research and innovation', that
identified nine areas where Europe's universities could contribute
to the implementation of the Lisbon strategy.
In line with the Europe 2020 strategy, the European Commission
has adopted a new agenda for modernisation of Europe's higher
education systems in September 2011, updating the 2006
Communication and providing strategic direction for the development
of European higher education over the next decade. The
Communication asserts that the potential of European higher
education institutions to fulfil their role in society and
contribute to Europe's prosperity remains underexploited and sets
out a series of measures to counter this, including
- putting higher education at the centre of innovation, job
creation and employability,
- increasing student mobility and
- improving links between HEIs, research and business.
The Lisbon Treaty
The Lisbon Strategy is different to the Lisbon Treaty, which amends the two treaties
that comprise the constitutional basis of the European Union,
namely, the Rome Treaty (1957) and the Maastricht Treaty (1992). The Lisbon Treaty was
signed by the EU member states on 13 December 2007, and entered
into force on 1 December 2009.