Children with European countries and EU flags
27 November 2019

Education in citizenship promoted by France and the Council of Europe

The Conference of Ministers of Education rounded off the series of events that marked France's presidency of the Council of Europe (17 May - 27 November 2019). Education in citizenship in the digital age and creation of an Observatory on History Teaching in Europe were top of the agenda.

Chaired by Jean-Michel Blanquer, France's Minister of National Education and Youth, and Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, the interministerial conference (54 countries) focused on the adoption of two texts bearing on education in citizenship. The French presidency wanted above all to promote equality and coexistence, a Europe that reconciles and unites.

Mindful of the fact that digital transformation is more than ever based on users' control over data and the requirement to take full account of ethical issues, participants highlighted local policies and best practices along with the means to be implemented in order to train responsible citizens.

The Ministers adopted a Joint Declaration in favour of digital citizenship education, which is considered to be a fundamental requirement for development of informed citizens.

The Declaration:
  • reasserts the importance of human rights and democracy,
  • presents the opportunities and risks created by digital tools.

History at the heart of European values

Promoting the study of history is one of the Council of Europe's priority missions. Given the rise of nationalisms, dissemination of misinformation and manipulation of historical facts, it must assert its values of equality, tolerance, sharing and coexistence.

In this context, with the Council of Europe celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, work undertaken needed to be consolidated, in particular around the 1954 European Cultural Convention, which was ratified by 50 States.

An observatory for a common European consciousness

The observatory project, initiated by France in the context of its presidency of the Council of Europe, was the main topic of the afternoon's discussions. A neutral apolitical tool for reflection under the aegis of the Council of Europe, it will promote the emergence of a common European consciousness through dialogue and the sharing of experiences between countries. The meeting closed with willing States' adoption of a declaration of political intention. This will enable startup of preparatory technical work on the observatory, which should be inaugurated before November 2020.