Commission guide: Education portfolio is a 'top priority' for investment
Tibor Navracsics says he will make youth dialogue one of the central goals of his mandate.
According to European education, culture, youth and sport commissioner Tibor Navracsics, his portfolio is "more vital than any other". He says he is "glad that we already have a solid foundation and tradition of youth dialogue at EU level", but insists, "I will not stop there. What I want to do is to reach out to at least one million young people, using new ideas and new platforms to expand this dialogue". Data from 2013 estimates that there are over 90 million people aged 15-29 living in the EU, but of course, the Hungarian official is only at the start of his five year mandate. He explains that he will "pursue one particular goal - to find a way of listening to our most disadvantaged young people, those who don’t have the resources or tools to participate". His aim is to "put young people at the heart of European policymaking by focusing on three priorities. First, I will work to strengthen and expand the dialogue with young people. Second, I will strive to help them get more involved in the democratic process. Lastly, I will focus on supporting opportunities for informal learning".
Navracsics is "very happy to say that education is one of the top priorities for new investment" in the commission’s €315bn plan, but stressed, "it is not enough to win this argument with the commission. We need to take the argument to our national capitals, to our finance ministers, to our education institutions and business leaders".
"Aside from high level technical and professional knowledge, young people need soft skills - being sensitive to other cultures, working in a team, communicating clearly, solving problems and adapting to change"
The commissioner believes that "education helps to boost growth and job creation through several channels. By improving people’s skills and competences, it makes them more employable, allows them to deploy more efficient production methods and adjust to technological progress. Moreover, education provides people with the necessary knowledge and attitudes to push research and development and translate new ideas into innovation". Yet he cautions that, "while our education systems are good, they are not good enough. To reap the full benefits of education, we will need structural reforms to improve them and make them more efficient."
In a world of fast-paced technological advancements, the Hungarian official insists, "my ambition is to ensure that one of Europe’s great strengths - its cultural and creative industries - can blossom and thrive in the digital world. The internet revolution has swept away business models, concentrated economic power and challenged the notion of intellectual property. Out of this breathtaking disruption emerges a tough question: how does cultural diversity thrive in a globalising digital world? Of course, this new world also brings fresh opportunity. Costs of production and distribution are falling, bigger audiences are easily reached, and new technologies open up new forms of art and performance. Many would argue we are living in a golden age where European design, fashion, writing, media, film and festivals are leading the way. And I would agree. But many of our creators will not reach their full potential without various forms of public support. This is where I believe the EU can make a difference. I want to argue for a modernised and effective copyright regime that is fit for the digital age. This means that artists and other creators are fairly remunerated and cultural diversity is protected, while we expand cross-border access to culture and education."
In addition, Navracsics highlights that, "aside from high level technical and professional knowledge, young people need soft skills - being sensitive to other cultures, working in a team, communicating clearly, solving problems and adapting to change. One way of developing such skills is participating in activities through NGOs, youth organisations, volunteering and political engagement. This is why I want to do more to promote non-formal and informal learning".
"While our education systems are good, they are not good enough. To reap full benefits of education, we will need structural reforms to improve them and make them more efficient"
In terms of sport, Navracsics says, "I want to promote the grassroots dimension of sport - this is an issue close to my heart. Sport brings joy into our lives. Practicing sport will help us lead healthier lives, but most importantly, sport helps to build communities. Second, I want to tackle the big threats to sport - from racism to match-fixing, corruption and to violence. Sport is run by its organisations, and that is the way it should be. But it depends on citizens’ trust. And I want to ensure that the commission as well as member states recognise and use its potential to give a boost to Europe’s economy."
Navracsics’ nomination was met with some controversy, as he was previously Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán’s chief of cabinet. Orban has been criticised for his treatment of national media, and Navracsics was initially rejected for the commissioner post by parliament. However, he has since told
MEPs, "my door is always open", adding, "I have made a commitment to work in partnership with you on our shared agenda".
The commissioner will be directly interacting with young people at the next European youth week at the end of July, where he plans to launch "a new ‘ideas lab’. I want to give young Europeans the chance to shape ideas online and offline and to vote for the ideas proposed".
Tibor Navracsics is European education, culture, youth and sport commissioner
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