The Education and Training 2010 work programme launched in 2001 and its follow-up, the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training ("ET 2020") adopted by the Council in May 2009 are the European strategy and co-operation in education and training. Politicians at European level have recognised that education and training are essential to the development and success of today's knowledge society and economy. The EU's strategy emphasises countries working together and learning from each other:
"Helping all citizens to be better skilled is crucial for EU growth and jobs, as well as for equity and social inclusion. The economic downturn puts these long-term challenges even more into the spotlight. Public and private budgets are under strong pressure, existing jobs are disappearing, and new ones often require different and higher level skills. Education and training systems should therefore become much more open and relevant to the needs citizens, and to those of the labour market and society at large. Policy cooperation at European level in the areas of education and training has provided valuable support to countries’ educational reforms and has contributed to learner and practitioner mobility across Europe. Building on this approach, and fully respecting Member States' responsibility for their education systems, the Council endorsed a Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in Education and Training (ET 2020) in May 2009".
EU education and training policy has been given added impetus since the adoption of the Lisbon Strategy in 2000, the EU's overarching programme focusing on growth and jobs.
The Copenhagen process was developed within the perspective of lifelong learning, and aims to encourage individuals to make use of the wide range of vocational learning opportunities available. There is a review of the process every two years.
The European Commission has integrated its various education and training initiatives under a single umbrella: the Lifelong Learning Programme.