Council of Europe: Recommendation Rec(2000)24 on the Development of European Studies for Democratic Citizenship





Recommendation Rec(2000)24

of the Committee of Ministers to member states

on the Development of European Studies

for Democratic Citizenship


(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers
on 20 December 2000

at the 735th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)  




The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 15.b of the Statute of the Council of Europe,


Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members and that this aim can be pursued notably by common action in the cultural field;


Bearing in mind the Council of Europe's function of building a freer, fairer and more tolerant European society founded on mutual values;


Having regard to the European Cultural Convention;


Having regard to the October 1993 Vienna Declaration of Council of Europe Heads of State and Government;


Having regard to the Final Declaration and Action Plan adopted at the 2nd Summit of Council of Europe Heads of State and Government in October 1997;


Having regard to the Budapest Declaration "For a Greater Europe without dividing lines" adopted at the 104th Session of the Committee of Ministers on 7 May 1999;


Having regard to the Resolution entitled “Fundamental values, aims and the future role of educational co-operation in the Council of Europe” adopted at the 19th Session of the Standing Conference of the European Ministers for Education in Kristiansand in June 1997;


Having regard to the Lisbon Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region;


Having regard to the Joint Declaration of the European Ministers of Education in Bologna on 19 June 1999;


Having regard to Recommendation No. R (2000) 12 of the Committee of Ministers on social sciences and the challenge of transition;


Having regard to Recommendation No. R (2000) 8 of the Committee of Ministers on the research mission of the university;           


Having regard to Committee of Ministers Recommendations No. R (84) 13 on the situation of foreign students, No. R (85) 21 on mobility of academic staff, No. R (90) 15 with a view to fostering the mobility of researchers, No. R (95) 8 on academic mobility and No. R (96) 7 on regional academic mobility;


Considering that education plays an essential role both in strengthening genuine democracy based on pluralism and tolerance and in asserting human rights and fundamental freedoms;


Aware of the role of European higher education in establishing a more complete and far-reaching Europe in the spirit of the Bologna declaration;


Considering that European Studies, if aimed at highlighting and critically analysing values common to Europeans and, in equal measure, at studying the European institutions, can and must encourage democratic citizenship;


Considering that such studies, which are interdisciplinary by definition, have the merit of rekindling a sense of humanist values and, when properly balanced, provide a range of conceptual tools for understanding the modern world, while contributing to the social and economic development of member states as well as to the establishment of democratic citizenship;


Considering that European Studies in the true sense of the word should be understood to include the study of Europe in its entirety;


Considering that European Studies, which first appeared only a few decades ago, now need strengthening due not only to the very progress made by the integration and globalisation processes, but also to the challenges these processes may bring about;


Considering that European Studies courses need further development, that their outcome requires additional clarification and that they should be more widely provided in Europe, due to an increased demand for them from young Europeans, public opinion and the labour market;


Considering that there is a palpably increased need, particularly in states which have recently joined the Council of Europe, not only for a technical understanding of the European institutions, but also for better, mutual understanding among Europeans themselves, 


1.         Recommends that governments of member states:  

a.         draw inspiration; in fields within their competence, from the general principles laid down in the appendix to this recommendations;

b.         assist and encourage application of the measures set out in the appendix wherever such application is not their immediate responsibility;


c.         take account, in European Studies, of the good practices in other countries and the experience acquired in that field;


d.         use the means available to them to encourage universities and other higher education or research institutions to apply the proposed measures while continuing to reflect on the outcomes and content of European Studies;


e.         ensure that this recommendation is disseminated as widely as possible among the relevant persons and bodies;


2.         Instructs the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to transmit this Recommendation to governments of states which are parties to the European Cultural Convention but not members of the Council of Europe.



Appendix to Recommendation Rec(2000)24



1.         Definition


For the purposes of this Recommendation, European Studies are defined as:


a.         the study of supranational, intergovernmental and other international institutions, policies and practices within Europe;


b.         the study of the international relations of European institutions, as well as the comparative study of the international relations of European states, with institutions or states outside Europe;


c.         comparative study of the historical, political, economic, legal, social, intellectual and cultural development of European societies;


d.         the study of transnational processes insofar as they affect European societies.


The main subjects concerned are political science, international relations, law, economics and history. But in the interdisciplinary approach that European Studies should adopt, which requires competence in one or more foreign languages, other components such as philosophy, geography, environmental studies, sociology, literature and art or even the history of science should also be considered. The aim is not only to accumulate different kinds of knowledge, but to stimulate different ways of thinking.


2.         General principles


a.         Programmes in European Studies should provide a knowledge of the structure and work of European institutions and of the general history and traditions of Europe, language skills and an awareness of civic life of European societies, while also promoting the fundamental values: respect for human rights and individual freedoms, tolerance and understanding of others, protection of minorities, and active participation in democratic life.


b.         European Studies should adapt to a wide range of audiences by simultaneously presenting different points of view and by respecting cultural diversity, thus making it possible for Europe to be thought of, and taught about, as being both plural and singular.


c.         Although it is important that European Studies should lead to good career perspectives, it is also important that they should preserve their cultural and civic characteristics: not only should they transfer know-how, they should also develop a capacity for critical thought, kindle a sense of shared European cultural values and help foster democratic citizenship.


d.         The principles below should be applied in order to develop diverse, rigorous and recognised programmes in European Studies:


-                    independence of the academic staff and institutions concerned;

-                    synergy of the private and public sectors;

-                    education in democratic citizenship, which European Studies are particularly well suited to provide.


3.         Contents and methods


            The following points are directed to governments and higher education institutions, depending on how responsibilities are shared in the particular country.


a.         A more precise typology of European Studies should be established by the academic community, with account being taken of the level of studies, the intensiveness of the course-work and the purpose of the course.


b.         The range of curricula should be open to development in order to meet the wide variety of demand for both long and short courses.


c.         Full courses in European Studies should cover both European civilisation and the economic, legal and political integration processes.


d.         As a general rule, the introduction of modules on the history of the concept of Europe, on European democratic culture and on European democratic concepts should be encouraged.


e.         The study of European languages should be made a compulsory part of the curriculum.


f.          The study of Europe's conceptual dimensions and its symbolic representations should find a place in European Studies programmes.


g.         In many cases, teaching methods will have to be renewed in order to design genuinely

interdisciplinary courses encouraging students to participate actively, requiring research and exploration and making use of the new technologies.


h.         Mechanisms for quality assurance and recognition of acquired qualifications should be introduced in every course in every university.


i.          Since Europe is an open-ended reality, both general and specialised courses should be based on academic research, which would enhance the value of European Studies and give them visibility and authority.


4.         Organisation of European Studies


            The following points are directed to governments and higher education institutions, depending on how responsibilities are shared in a particular country.


            The relevant authorities should join with the professional networks in promoting the development and visibility and in raising standards of European Studies. Where courses in European Studies are non-existent or too vulnerable, a proactive policy should be established.


Dialogue should be established or developed between representatives of the academic community and political decision makers so that priorities can be agreed, it being understood that their respective roles and responsibilities remain clearly separate.


4.1.      Teachers /researchers


a.         Various measures to improve the quality of teaching/research staff should be taken by governments or higher education institutions, depending on where responsibility lies, to:


          provide a framework, working conditions and incentives (new posts, specific financial aid in the form of prizes, subsidies, publishing grants, etc.) to attract creative teachers/researchers working on European issues;


          promote and maintain a high quality of teaching and research by introducing evaluation procedures based on national and international standards;


          ensure gradual renewal of staff by recruitment of young academics, who must be offered well defined and attractive career paths;


          give selective support and more opportunities for research contracts to young lecturers/researchers.


b.         In order to stimulate research on European issues, and subject to the general financial priorities fixed by each government, measures should be taken to encourage researchers in fields which are not already covered by current research programmes according to a number of requirements:


-                    the system of financing, which should be kept transparent and competitive, should be quality based;


-                    interdisciplinary research on the major problems facing European society, or which opens up opportunities for linking different fields of study, should be given particular encouragement;


-                    teamwork at local, national, regional and international level should be emphasised;


-                    specialists should be required to disseminate research results to academic peers and to the public.


c.         In order to satisfy the general need of teachers/researchers for comprehensive information and documentation in European Studies, governments and higher education institutions should ensure that existing collections of data be made available to all researchers on condition that data protection requirements are respected.


4.2.      Students


a.         In order to adapt programmes to students' needs and labour-market requirements, statistical records should be created to gain a better knowledge of the number of students involved in European Studies, the breakdown per level, the types of courses taken and the career outcomes of European Studies graduates.


b.         Higher education institutions should, as far as possible, provide students with information about the career prospects that European Studies offer them in the civil service and European institutions as well as in the private sector.


c.         Students should be given information and advice from both the administrative services and their own departments so that they may choose the most suitable course of studies and the most appropriate options within the course.


4.3       Structures and financing


a.         Chairs similar to Jean Monnet chairs and other posts in European Studies should be created in a number of higher education institutions to set up European Studies programmes.


b.      Higher education institutions should receive financial support by governments to establish centres of excellence in European Studies to:


                      develop research on Europe in general;

                      identify priorities of research;

                      bring critical thought to bear on European issues;

                      bring knowledge and vocational training up to date:

                      compile databases;

                      exchange expertise;

                      train teachers.


c.         Governments and higher education institutions should encourage independent research institutes and academies to participate in the development of European Studies.


d.         Special funding agreements should be concluded to set up libraries and documentation centres, foster exchange of expertise and ensure collective benefit from models of good practice in the field of European Studies.



4.4.      Academic exchanges and international co-operation


a.         Co-operation of higher education and research institutions throughout Europe, and

particularly with those in the new member states, should be strengthened in order to ensure:


                      training and exchange of teaching staff;

          student exchanges based on the mutual recognition of qualifications and the establishment of credit systems facilitating such recognition;

          designing curricula and joint programmes, also in the context of lifelong learning;

                      introducing joint supervision of doctoral theses;

          devising modern teaching methods;

          setting up of joint distance-learning courses;

          equipping libraries and documentation centres;

          the use of new information technologies.


b.         Teacher and student mobility should be encouraged by means of foreign assignments for teaching staff and grants or subsidies for students.


c.         The international joint supervision of doctoral theses should be given particular encouragement and financial support.


d.         In order to assist student mobility, agreements should whenever necessary be concluded to recognise the qualifications of students who have met the requirements specified in their European Studies programmes and exchange agreements. The use of the Diploma Supplement and a credit transfer system, in particular the ECTS (European Credit Transfer System), should be encouraged.


e.         Even more than other students, students in European Studies should be urged to make use of existing programmes for academic mobility: these include European Union programmes, regional exchange programmes, and the opportunities offered by bilateral agreements.


f.          Links and co-operation of European higher education and research institutions with those on other continents, many of which have an innovative approach to European Studies, should be encouraged.


g.         In the same spirit, it is important to strengthen co-operation between Council of Europe's member states and other international organisations in order to define priorities, exchange and disseminate documents and draw up joint programmes and pilot projects.




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