On 29 May, the Competitiveness Council approved the signing of a cooperation agreement in higher education and vocational education and training between the EU and the US. The agreement, which replaces the 2000 cooperation programme between the two regions, aims to promote cultural understanding, as well as improve the quality of human resource development in both the EU and the US, including the acquisition of skills needed to meet the challenges of the global knowledge-based economy. The agreement gives higher education consortia from either side of the Atlantic the chance to set up recognised double or joint degrees at undergraduate level - the Transatlantic Degree. Financial support would be provided consortia of EU and US to set-up and run the Transatlantic Degree, and provide transatlantic mobility grants (scholarships) for students and scholars. Students participating in the degree programmes would have the chance to obtain two separate degrees (or a joint degree) in less time and at a lower cost than would be required if the degrees were completed separately. Participating institutions would compare, review and adjust their courses and put together their best curricular resources using their comparative strengths to build a broader and higher quality offer of courses for the students. Legislation will ensure that joint consortia include as balanced a representation of higher education institutions from as many EU Member States as possible. The agreement will run for eight years and may be extended or amended by mutual written agreement. In other news, the Competitiveness Council reached agreement on the draft legislation to open up the internal market for services. The proposed directive, which will now return to Parliament for second reading, is seen as one of the key elements of the EU's growth and jobs strategy.