Vocations and Learning

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 87–107 | Cite as

The EC Discourse on Vocational Training: How a ‘Common Vocational Training Policy’ Turned into a Lifelong Learning Strategy

  • Pia CortEmail author
Original paper


This article traces the EC vocational training policy historically and describes the discursive alignments which brought the policy from a ‘common vocational training policy’ as laid down in Article 128, in the Treaty of Rome to the Lisbon Lifelong Learning strategy. The argument is that vocational training has served as a lever for the gradual expansion of the policy field into both general and higher education and for the establishment of a European discourse on Lifelong Learning. In the article, Ball’s concept of “policy as discourse” is used to identify the changing spaces of possibility within EC vocational training policy (Ball, What is policy? Texts, trajectories and toolboxes. Discourse, 13(2), 1993).


Europeanisation Vocational training policy Discourse analysis History of vocational training 


  1. Andersen, N. A., & Kjær, P. (1996). Institutional Construction and Change: An Analytical Strategy of Institutional History (Vol. 5). København: Center for offentlig organisation og styring.Google Scholar
  2. Ball, S. J. (1993). What is policy? Texts, trajectories and toolboxes. Discourse, 13(2). doi: 10.1080/0159630930130203.
  3. Brine, J. (2006). Lifelong learning and the knowledge economy: those that know and those that do not—the discourse of the European Union. British Educational Research Journal, 32(5), 649–665. doi: 10.1080/01411920600895676. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Campbell, J. L., & Pedersen, O. K. (Eds.). (2001). The Rise of Neoliberalism and Institutional Analysis. Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Commission Working Paper.Guidelines for Community Action in the Field of Education and Training. (1993). (Vol. COM(93) 183 final): Commission of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  6. Cort, P. (2008a). The open method of coordination—a triangle of EU governance? The Danish School of Education.Google Scholar
  7. Cort, P. (2008b). Transcending the nation state—Towards a European Vocational Education and Training Model? Cursiv, 3. Google Scholar
  8. Council Decision of 2 April 1963 laying down general principles for implementing a common vocational training policy. (1963). (Vol. 63/266/EEC, pp. 25–28): Official Journal of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  9. Dahrendorf, R. (1973). Working Program in the Field of “Research, Science and Education” (Vol. SEC(73) 2000/2): Commission of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  10. de Moor, A. (1985). Article 7 of the Treaty of Rome Bites. The Modern Law Review, 48(4), 452–459.Google Scholar
  11. Deane, C. (2005). Transparency of Qualifications: are we there yet? European Journal of Education, 40(3), 279–293. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3435.2005.00226.x. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fogg, K., & Jones, H. C. (1985). Educating the European Community: Ten Years on: Changing Issues in Education. European Journal of Education, 20(2/3), 293–300. doi: 10.2307/1502956. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Foucault, M. (2005) Vidensarkælogien. Forlaget Philosophia.Google Scholar
  14. Francoise Gravier v City of Liège, Non-discrimination—Access to vocational training (Court of Justice of the European Communities. (1985).Google Scholar
  15. From education to working life. (1976). (Supplement 12): Commission of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  16. General guidelines for drawing up a Community action programme on vocational training. (1971). (Vol. C 081, 12/08/1971, pp. 5–11): The European Commission.Google Scholar
  17. Gewirtz, S., & Ball, S. J. (2000). From “Welfarism” to “New Managerialism”: shifting discourses of shcool headship in the education marketplace. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 21(3), 253–268. doi: 10.1080/713661162. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gillingham, J. (2003). European Integration 19502003 (1st ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Harvey, D. (2005). A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Howarth, D., & Torfing, J. (Eds.). (2005). Discourse Theory in European Politics: palgrave macmillan.Google Scholar
  21. Janne, H. (1973). For a Community policy on education. In The European Commission (Ed.) (Vol. 10, pp. 60): The European Commission.Google Scholar
  22. Kohler-Koch, B., & Eising, R. (Eds.). (1999). The Tranformation of Governance in the European Union (Vol. 12). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Lawn, M. (2003). The “Usefulness” of Learning: the struggle over governance, meaning and the European education space. University of Edinburgh.Google Scholar
  24. Mechi, L. (2004). Vocational training from the birth of the ECSC to the early years of the EEC. In A. Varsori (Ed.), Towards a history of vocational education and training (VET) in Europe in a comparative perspective (vol. II, (p. 12–23)). Florence: European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training.Google Scholar
  25. Memorandum on the Rationalisation and Coordination of Vocational Training Programmes at Community Level. (1990). (Vol. COM(90) 334 final): The Commission of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  26. Moodie, G. (2002). Identifying vocational education and training. Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 54(2), 249–266. doi: 10.1080/13636820200200197. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Neave, G. (1984). The EEC and education: Trentham Books.Google Scholar
  28. Nielsen, S. P. (1993). EF's sammenlignelighedsprojekt og erhvervsuddannelserne. København: Statens Erhvervspædagogiske Læreruddannelse.Google Scholar
  29. Nielsen, S. P., Cort, P., & Pedersen, F. (1999). Evaluation of the Leonardo Programme. Denmark. Copenhagen: The Danish Institute for Educational Training of Vocational Teachers.Google Scholar
  30. On the comparability of vocational training qualifications between the Member States of the European Community. (1985). (Vol. 85/368/EEC): European Economic Community.Google Scholar
  31. Petrini, F. (2004). The common vocational training policy in the EEC from 1961 to 1972. In A. Varsori (Ed.), Towards a history of vocational education and training (VET) in Europe in a comparative perspective(vol. 101). Thessaloniki: Cedefop.Google Scholar
  32. Project Memorandum sur les Problèmes relatifs à la Formation Professionnelle des Travilleurs des Industries de la Communauté. (1957). In H. Autorité (Ed.) (Vol. 2894/57): Communauté Europeenne du Charbon et de l’Acier.Google Scholar
  33. Treaty of Rome. (1957).Google Scholar
  34. Treaty on European Union. (1992). Official Journal, C, 191.Google Scholar
  35. Vink, M. (2002). What is Europeanization? and Other Questions on a New Research Agenda, Yen Research Meeting on Europeanisation. Milan: Department of Science, Ledien University.Google Scholar
  36. Walkenhorst, H. (2005). The German Education System and Europeanisation: From “Golden Rein” to Last Resort? Manchester: ASGP Conference.Google Scholar
  37. Walters, W., & Haahr, J. H. (2005). Governing Europe. Discourse, governmentality and European integration. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. White Paper on Education and Training.Teaching and Learning—Towards the Learning Society. (1995). (Vol. COM(95) 590 final): Commission of the European Communities.Google Scholar

List of policy documents

  1. Commission Memorandum on Vocational Training in the European Community in the 1990s. (1991). (Vol. COM(91) 397 final): Commission of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  2. Commission Report on the Establishment of a European Foundation. (1977). (Vol. 5): European Communities-Commission.Google Scholar
  3. Communication from the Commission: Review of the Reactions to the White Paper: “Teaching and Learning: Towards the Learning Society”. (1997). (Vol. COM(97) 256 final): Commission of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  4. Conclusions of the Council and the ministers for education meeting within the Council of 14 December 1989 on technical and vocational education and initial training. (1990). (Vol. C 027, pp. 4–6): Official Journal.Google Scholar
  5. The Copenhagen Declaration. (2002).Google Scholar
  6. Council Conclusions of 24 July 1995 on the importance and implications of the quality of vocational training. (1995). (Vol. 31995Y0812(03), pp. 7–8): Official Journal C 207.Google Scholar
  7. Council Decision of 18 December 1989 establishing an action programme to promote innovation in the field of vocational training resulting from technological change in the European Community (Eurotecnet). (1989). (Vol. 89/657/EEC): The European Community.Google Scholar
  8. Council Regulation (EEC) No 1360/90 of 7 May 1990 establishing a European Training Foundation. (1990). (Vol. 1360/90): EU Commission.Google Scholar
  9. Council Resolution of 5 June 1989 on continuing vocational training. (1989). (Vol. 31989Y0615(01), pp. 4): Official Journal C 148.Google Scholar
  10. Council resolution of 11 July 1983 concerning vocational training policies in the European Community in the 1980s. (1983). (Vol. 31983Y0720(02), pp. 6): Official Journal C193, 20/07/1983, p. 2.Google Scholar
  11. Council Resolution of 15 July 1996 on the transparency of vocational training certificates. (1996). (Vol. 31996Y0801(04), pp. 7–8): Official Journal C 224.Google Scholar
  12. Council Resolution of 18 December 1990 on the comparability of vocational training qualifications. (1990). (Vol. 31991Y0424(01), pp. 1–2): Official Journal C 109, 24/04/1991.Google Scholar
  13. Detailed work programme on the follow-up of the objectives of Education and training systems in Europe. (2002). (Vol. C 142): Official Journal of the European Communites.Google Scholar
  14. Education and training in Europe: diverse systems, shared goals for 2010. (2002): European Commission.Google Scholar
  15. Education and vocational training within the European Community. Activities of the Commission of the European Communities in 1983 and 1984. (1985). (Final ed.): Commission of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  16. Education in the European Community. (1974). (Vol. 3): The European Commission.Google Scholar
  17. Education in the European Community—Medium-term perspectives 1989–1992. (1988). (Vol. COM(88) 280 final): Commission of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  18. European Governance—A White paper. (2001). Commission of European Communities.Google Scholar
  19. Interim Report on the implementation of the Council Decision of 1 December 1987 concerning an Action Programme for the vocational training of Young People and their Preparation for Adult and Working Life (PETRA Programme). (1990). (Vol. SEC(90) 432 final): Commission of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  20. Making a European Area of Lifelong Learning a Reality. (2001): The European Commission.Google Scholar
  21. New Information Technologies and Social Change in the areas of employment, working conditions, education and vocational training. Communication of the Commission to the Standing Committee on Employment. (1981). The Commussion of the European Communities.Google Scholar
  22. Newsletter on the Common Agricultural Policy. (1966). (Vol. 3): Directorate General for Agriculture of the EEC Commission.Google Scholar
  23. Presidency Conclusions: Lisbon European Council 23 and 24 March 2000. (2000). European Commission.Google Scholar
  24. Report from Education Council to the European Council on the Concrete Future Objectives of Education and Training Systems. (2001). The Council of the European Union.Google Scholar
  25. Towards a Europe of Knowledge. (1997). (Vol. COM(97) 563 final): Commission of the European Communities.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. of Curriculum ResearchThe Danish School of EducationKøbenhavn NVDenmark

Personalised recommendations