"I believe that the activities of my ministry contributed to the fact that the Presidency did a very
good job. Our Swedish colleagues will receive results that we really don't need to be ashamed of. The Czech
Presidency took place at a difficult time both in economic and political terms but, in spite of this, ended
as a success", said Czech Minister of Education, Youth and Sports Miroslava Kopicová, speaking
about the Czech Presidency.
The primary goal that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MEYS) set for itself at the beginning of the preparations of the CZ PRES was to "adopt documents for Europe through the smooth course of the events held". This goal was met in full - the events ran smoothly and were received very positively by the participants, all of the planned priorities were implemented, and the conclusions of the Council of Ministers that defined them were approved.
A total of 28 events were held in the Czech Republic (see appendix) within the sphere of competence of the MEYS, and another ten meetings were held in Brussels and in other EU Member States:
- 4 formal Councils of Ministers in Brussels (in February, March, and twice in May)
- 2 informal meetings of Ministers in Prague (in March and May)
- Meeting of the Bologna Process Ministers in Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve
- 10 high-level conferences concerning education, vocational education, youth,and research and development; 12 closed retreat meetings of various Council working groups and other expert meetings
- 4 meetings of directors-general (responsible for European cooperation in education, for vocational training, higher education, and youth)
- A number of other important conferences in Brussels, Thessalonica, etc.
The events organised by the Czech Republic within the remit of the MEYS were attended by nearly 4,500 delegates, who spent over 13,000 man-days there. The 28 events organised by the Czech Republic took a total of 60 days, i.e., nearly 2 months.
In addition to the events organised by the MEYS, a number of other accompanying expert and cultural events were held under the auspices or with the participation of the Ministry.
In terms of preparation of the documents, MEYS representatives chaired 7 meetings of the Education Committee and 6 meetings of the Working Group on Youth in Brussels and in Prague. They also attended the meetings of other Council working groups chaired by the representatives of the Permanent Representation in Brussels, prepared background materials for them, and conducted a number of bilateral meetings to promote the conclusions.
The total budget for the Czech Presidency within the remit of the MEYS amounted to approximately CZK 44,500,000 from the state budget, and approximately CZK 14,000,000 from the European Commission, in grants that were obtained for 9 of the events. Those funds were used mainly to cover the costs related to the organisation of these events, the travel costs of business trips, labour costs, and others. At this point, no final account can be given due to payments still being processed; nevertheless, the budget should not be exceeded.
All of the activities related to the arrangements for the Presidency were carried out by MEYS employees or the employees of organisations it manages directly. No conference agencies were hired for the organisation of the events themselves, in an attempt to conserve state budgetary resources.
Approximately 10 full-time employees worked onthe content of the Czech Presidency at the MEYS, and approximately 30 other employees participated in the creation of the content of the Presidency to varying degrees, in addition to their normal activities. The organisational arrangements for the Presidency were made by 4 full-time employees, and another 6 employees devoted most of their work time to the organisational aspects of the Presidency. 9 new positions were set up in 2008 at the MEYS for making arrangements for the Presidency. In 2009, the number was reduced and recalculated to 7 jobs. These newly hired employees have temporary contracts, most through to the end of September 2009.
The core team of employees making arrangements for the Presidency worked countless overtime hours in preparing for, and during the course of, the Czech Presidency; on average, it was 20 hours of overtime per employee per month, but overtime of more than 60 hours per month, including weekends and holidays, was not uncommon. For this commitment, the employees received remuneration based on wage tables, just like regular civil service employees. The motivation and retention of these employees was ensured by financial bonuses, which however by no means could cover all of the overtime work referred to above.
The Approved Agenda for Education and Training
Three main priorities were set in the sphere of education and training, which were linked to the
related documents and events:
1. The main priority throughout the entire course of the Presidency was the adoption of a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training extending to 2020. This is a very important agenda, whereby Member States set out their main strategic goals, priorities, and principles of cooperation for the next almost 11 years. In spite of the very diverse opinions of the Member States with respect to each area of this agenda, in particular of the benchmarks that determine the quantified target values adopted by all Member States, this strategic framework was unanimously adopted at the Council of Ministers (in the education, youth, and culture - EYC formation) on 12 May 2009, in the form of Council conclusions. Important milestones on the path to adopting this document were the approval of key communications for the Spring European Council (adopted at the EYC Council
meeting on 16 February 2009) and the informal meeting of Ministers responsible for Education, on 22-23 March 2009 in Prague.
2. The second major priority of the Czech Presidency was the issue of enhancing and developing partnerships between educational institutions and employers - primarily with a view to enhancing Europe's competitiveness and supporting the employment of all persons through the development of their key competencies and skills. In connection with two important events concerning this topic (a part of the informal meeting of Ministers for Education, held 22-23 March 2009 in Prague; and a conference on the topic, held on 6-7 April 2009 in Prague) Council conclusions for this area1 were discussed and unanimously approved at the Council of Ministers (in the education, youth, and culture - EYC formation) on 12 May 2009. On 12 May 2009, the Council of Ministers also adopted to main operating tools for
European cooperation in vocational education and training, in the form of a Council and European Parliament Recommendation. The European system of credits for vocational education and training was inspired by the system of credits for higher education; it offers a tool for exchanging information, which should help individuals take full advantage of opportunities for international mobility. The European reference framework for ensuring quality should enhance the effort to formulate a common quality assurance concept and generate mutual trust in the sphere of vocational education and training. The Czech Presidency organised an opening conference on the topic on 20 May in Prague.
3. The third priority was the modernisation of higher education in the context of the Bologna Process and related European activities. Following up on the previous working meeting held on 28-29 April 2009, a conference of ministers responsible for the Bologna Process took place in Leuven/Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, where a communiqué was adopted, setting out a vision for further work through to 2020.
The support for the theme of creativity and innovation was one of the main themes throughout the Czech Presidency. In this regard, the Czech Presidency organised a conference to launch the European Year of Creativity and Innovation (7 January 2009 in Prague). The topic of creativity and innovation was also a key term for the conference on the Lifelong Learning Programme (7 May in Prague). In the context of support for international mobility, the Czech Presidency organised a side-conference to the Ministerial Council in Brussels (12 May) concerning scholarships for Western Balkan students, and participated in the conference to launch the second round of the Erasmus Mundus programme (16 February in Brussels). Council Conclusions to enhance partnership between educational institutions and social partners, meaning primarily employers, in the context of life-long learning.
Cooperation in the Youth Field
In order to achieve better implementation and greater visibility for the European
Pact for Youth, the key communications drawn up during the Czech Presidency for
the spring European Council focused primarily on that document. A discussion of
ministers took place with respect to the European Pact for Youth, the purpose of
which was to draw attention to best practices in implementation on the national level.
The Presidency made a significant contribution to 2011 being designated the
European Year of Volunteering. Non-governmental, non-profit organisations first managed to secure the support of the European Parliament. Although the European Commission was initially hesitant in this regard, giving the ending of its term in office as the reason, Commissioner Ján Figel, during a breakfast of the Presidency trio with youth representatives, pledged the Commission's support for making this a focus of 2011, due to a letter and the personal intervention of Minister Liška. Volunteering was also the main topic of the European Conference on Youth held in Prague in March.
At the May meeting of the Council of Ministers, an Evaluation of the Current European Framework of Cooperation in the Youth Field was adopted in the form of conclusions, which concludes the initial eight-year period commenced in 2001, and proposes the basic direction for the upcoming years. These were discussed at the traditional Meeting of Youth and Meeting of Senior Directors Responsible for Youth, at the beginning of June in Prague. Sweden will follow up with the preparation of a new framework of cooperation.
Research and Development and Innovation
The Presidency, in cooperation with the General Secretariat of the Council, elaborated a text concerning research and
development for the Key Issues Paper that served as the foundation for a working group discussion
and was subsequently approved by the March Competitiveness Council. The main mission, unanimously supported by all
Member States, was that in spite of the period of economic recession, the level of research and development
expenditures should be at least retained. A request was also voiced for an efficient utilisation and evaluation of
At the May meeting of the Competitiveness Council, political agreement was found on a proposed Regulation on the Community legal framework for a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC), which has an immediate impact on the future of the construction of large research infrastructure in Europe. The proposal aims to achieve that the newly established research infrastructure would automatically gain the status of an international organisation and thus be exempt from VAT payments. In its conclusions, the Council also discussed the construction of large infrastructures in the context of regional development. In addition to the better management and evaluation of research infrastructure, the conclusions on this topic also concern the uneven distribution of these facilities throughout Europe. The Council also discussed the effectiveness of investments into research in the context of conclusions concerning the evaluation of the impact of framework programmes, and the issue of human resource development in research.
Pursuant to the outcome of the December meeting of the Competitiveness Council, which adopted the Council's conclusions with respect to the Ljubljana Process - the ERA VISION 2020 - the Council adopted conclusions concerning ERA implementation in May, appended to which is a report on its current status and tools. Last but not least, it also contains proposals for steps to implement the VISION, drawn up by the Czech Presidency. In this context, Sweden declared its preparedness to accept the baton in its presidency and work on further steps in connection with the future management of the European Research Area.
During the Presidency, the sixth meeting of the Space Council was held. Its members greatly emphasised the need of enhancing innovation and research in connection with aerospace activities, the impact of those activities on increasing competitiveness, the need of cooperating with small and medium-sized enterprises, and the speedy implementation of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security Programme, whose strategic goal is to achieve the harmonisation of fragmented national standards in the global monitoring of the environment and security throughout the entire EU. The benefit of aerospace research for the development of innovation and competitiveness, in the context of the European Economic Recovery Programme, was confirmed in the enactment of a resolution of the same name by the Competitiveness Council. In the sphere of innovation, the May Competitiveness Council approved a Presidency report on progress in
innovation, which summarises and evaluates the activities undertaken in fulfilling the European Innovation Strategy.
The Presidency managed to find agreement with the European Parliament, Council,
and the European Commission, on the Commission's proposal to set up a European
Metrology Research Programme, to combine 22 national metrology research
programmes, in an effort to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of public
research in the field of metrology.
Cooperation in the Field of Sports
In April 2009, an informal meeting of ministers responsible for the sphere of sports in
Members States took place in Prague. The Rolling Agenda followed up on the topics
elaborated by the French Presidency and the current issues of sports discussed by
the White Paper on Sports. The Czech Republic presented itself in two approved
priorities - the Autonomy of Sports and volunteering in sports.
Spokesperson of the MEYS for CZ PRES
tel.: +420 257 193 426
fax: +420 257 193 753