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Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe


What is the EU’s role in adult learning?

In the timeline below you can see how the EU has promoted adult learning over the years. The timeline includes highlights, such as important policy publications and initiatives.

EU’s work on adult learning begins with the Treaty of Rome through which the European Community promoted basic and advanced vocational training.


The EU begins working on adult learning policy


The Council of the European Union publishes its Resolution on Lifelong Learning, highlighting the ‘cradle-to-grave’ principle of education and its provision in different environments.


The Commission publishes the communication It is never too late to learn highlighting the essential contribution of adult learning to employability and mobility and to social inclusion.

The Commission publishes the communication It is always a good time to learn. It includes an Action Plan on Adult Learning (2008-2010) that provides, for the first time, common priorities to be encouraged in the adult learning sector.


The Council publishes a resolution on a renewed European Agenda on Adult Learning (EAAL), consolidating policy in the field of adult learning. This is the EU reference text on adult learning policy.


A key message of EAAL is that adult learning in all its forms boosts learners’ employability, and contributes to social inclusion, active citizenship and personal development. Increasing participation and enabling all adults to develop and renew their skills and competences throughout their lives are at the heart of the Agenda.

The 2015-2020 priorities for EAAL are set:


ensuring the coherence of adult learning with other policy areas

increasing the supply and take-up of adult learning provision

widening access through workplace-based learning, ICT and second-chance opportunities

improving quality assurance, including initial and continuing education of adult educators.

The New Skills Agenda for Europe proposes that Member States adopt a Skills Guarantee to raise the level of adult basic skills.


On 19 December the Council adopts the recommendation Upskilling Pathways - New opportunities for adults. This aims to help Europe's 64 million adults who do not yet have an upper secondary qualification to acquire a minimum level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills and then progress towards an upper or lower secondary qualification.


EAAL is part of the 'ET2020' framework for European cooperation in education and training. The ET2020 working group on adult learning 2016 - 2018 undertakes peer learning on policies that can encourage more adults to learn in the workplace.

Member States have to outline the measures they will take to implement Upskilling Pathways.