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The Bologna Declaration has been signed by the Ministers of Education of 29 European countries on the occasion of the CRE/Confederation of EU Rectors’ Conference, held in Bologna on June 18-19, 1999.

A full report on the Conference is presented in SEFI-News 78 (June 99).


"The European Higher Education Area"

Joint Declaration of the European Ministers of Education

Convened in Bologna on the 19th of June 1999


The European process, thanks to the extraordinary achievements of the last few years, has become an increasingly concrete and relevant reality for the Union and its citizens. Enlargement prospects together with deepening relations with other European countries, provide even wider dimensions to that reality. Meanwhile, we are witnessing a growing awareness in large parts of the political and academic world and in public opinion of the need to establish a more complete and far-reaching Europe, in particular building upon and strengthening its intellectual, cultural, social and scientific and technological dimensions.

A Europe of Knowledge is now widely recognised as an irreplaceable factor for social and human growth and as an indispensable component to consolidate and enrich the European citizenship, capable of giving its citizens the necessary competencies to face the challenges of the new millennium, together with an awareness of shared values and belonging to a common social and cultural space.

The importance of education and educational co-operation in the development and strengthening of stable, peaceful and democratic societies in universally acknowledged as paramount, the more so in view of the situation in South East Europe.

The Sorbonne Declaration of 25th of May 1998, which was underpinned by these considerations, stressed the Universities’ central role in developing European cultural dimensions. It emphasised the creation of European area of higher education as a key way to promote the citizens’ mobility and employability and the Continent’s overall development.

Several European countries have accepted the invitation to commit themselves to achieving the objectives set out in the declaration, by signing it or expressing their agreement in principle. The direction taken by several higher education reforms launched in the meantime in Europe has proved many Governments’ determination to act.

European higher education institutions, for their part, have accepted the challenge and taken up a main role in constructing the European area of higher education, also in the wake of the fundamental principles laid down in the Bologna Magna Charta Universitatum of 1988. This is of the highest importance, given that Universities’ independence and autonomy ensure that higher education and research systems continuously adapt to changing needs, society’s demands and advances in scientific knowledge.

The course has been set in the right direction and with meaningful purpose. The achievement of grater compatibility and comparability of the systems of higher education nevertheless requires continual momentum in order to be fully accomplished. We need to support it through promoting concrete measures to achieve tangible forward steps. The 18th June meeting saw participation by authoritative experts and scholars from all our countries and provides us with very useful suggestions on the initiatives to be taken.

We must in particular look at the objective of increasing the international competitiveness of the European systems of higher education. The vitality and efficiency of any civilisation can be measured by the appeal that its culture has for other countries. We need to ensure that the European higher education system acquires a world-wide degree of attraction equal to our extraordinary cultural and scientific traditions.

While affirming our support to the general principles laid down in the Sorbonne declaration, we engage in co-ordinating our policies to reach in the short term, and in any case within the first decade of the firs millennium, the following objectives, which we consider to be of primary relevance in order to establish the European are of higher education and to promote the European system of higher education world-wide:

We hereby undertake to attain these objectives – within the framework of our institutional competencies and taking full respect of the diversity of cultures, languages, national education systems and of University autonomy – to consolidate the European area of higher education. To that end, we will pursue the ways of intergovernmental co-operation, together with those of non governmental European organisations with competence on higher education. We expect Universities to again respond promptly and positively and to contribute actively to the success of our endeavour.

Convinced that the establishment of the European area of higher education requires constant support, supervision and adaptation to the continuously evolving needs, we decide to meet again within two years in order to assess the progress achieved and the new steps to be taken.

Caspar Einem

Minister of Science and Transport – Austria

Gérard Schmit

Director General of French Community, Ministry of Higher Education and Research – Belgium

Jan Adé, Director General, Ministry of the Flamish Community, Dept of Education – Belgium

Anna Maria Totomanova

Vice-Minister of Education and Science – Bulgaria

Eduard Zeman

Minister of Education, Youth and Sport – Czech republic

Margrethe Vestanger

Minister of Education – Denmark

Tonis Lukas

Minister of Education – Estonia

Maija Rask

Minister of Education and Science – Finland

Claude Allègre

Minister of National Education, Research and Technology – France

Wolf-Michael Catenhusen

Parlimentary State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education and Research – Germany

Ute Erdsiek-Rave,

Minister of Education, Science, Research and Culture of the Land Schleswig-Holstein

Gherassimos Arsenis

Minister of Public Education and Religious Affairs – Greece

Adam Kiss

Deputy State Secretary for Higher Education and Science – Hungary

Gudridur Siguardardottir

Secretary General, Ministry of Education, Science and Culture – Iceland

Pat Dawling

Principal Officer, Minister of Education and Science – Ireland

Ortensio Zecchino

Minister of University and Scientific and Technological Research – Italy

Tatjana Koke

State Minister of Higher Education and Science – Latvia

Kornelijus Platelis

Minister of Education and Science – Lithuania

Erna Hennicot-Schoepges

Minister of National Education and Vocational Training – Luxembourg

Louis Galea

Minister of Education – Malta

Loek Hermans

Minister of Education , Culture and Science – the Netherlands

Jon Lilletun

Minister of Education, Research and Church Affairs – Norway

Wilibald Winkler

Under Secretary of State of National Education – Poland

Eduardo Marçal Grilo

Minister of Education – Portugal

Andrei Marga

Minister of National Education – Romania

Milan Ftàcnik

Minister of Education – Slovak Republic

Pavel Zgaga

State Secretary for Higher Education – Slovenia

D. Jorge Fernandez Diaz

Secretary of State of Education, Universities, Research and Development – Spain

Agneta Bladh

State Secretary of Education and Science –Sweden

Charles Kleiber

State Secretary of Education and Research – Swiss Confederation

Baroness Tessa Blackstone of Stoke Newington

Minister of State for Education and Employment – United Kingdom

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