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Community action programme SOCRATES, 1995-1999

The Commission's proposal to establish the SOCRATES programme of action is based on substantial discussion in various fora, including the European Parliament and the Education Council, and in a series of bilateral talks with representatives of each of the Member States on the experience and evaluation of the two major Community programmes in the field of education, ERASMUS and LINGUA. The programme is intended to ensure the continuation of Community action already undertaken, particularly under the ERASMUS and LINGUA programmes, and guarantee rationalization between such initiatives available for cooperation in education. The action programme will comprise three "chapters".

The Community shall contribute to the development of quality education by encouraging cooperation between Member States and, if necessary, by supporting and supplementing their action, while fully respecting the responsibility of the Member States for the content of teaching and the organization of education systems, and their cultural and linguistic diversity. Community action will be aimed at:
- Encouraging mobility of students and teachers by encouraging the academic recognition of diplomas and periods of study;
- Promoting cooperation between educational establishments;
- Developing exchanges of information and experience on issues common to the education systems of the Member States;
- Encouraging the development of youth exchanges and exchanges of socio-educational instructors;
- Encouraging the development of distance education.

The specific objectives of Community action in the field of education are directly linked with other areas of Community action, notably for economic and social cohesion, reinforcing the scientific and technological base of industry in the Community, improving the knowledge and dissemination of the culture and histories of the European peoples, encouraging synergy between the various activities of the Community action programme SOCRATES and other Community actions with an educational perspective.

The Community and Member States will foster cooperation with third countries and the competent international organizations in the sphere of education, in particular the Council of Europe.
To develop the European dimension in studies at all levels; to promote knowledge of the languages of the Community; to increase mobility for the Community's students, especially those in higher education, to promote broad and intensive cooperation between institutions at all levels of education in every Member State, to develop the use of communication and information technologies as a tool and subject for education, promote intellectual mobility of know-how and experience, in particular through the development of open and distance education and learning at all levels of teaching, and foster exchanges of information and experience with a view to ensuring that Member States may learn and benefit from each other's educational systems.
Three "chapters" :

- Higher Education (ERASMUS):

. Action 1: Promoting the European dimension;
. Action 2: European University networks;
. Action 3: Funding student mobility grants;

- School Education (COMENIUS):

. Action 1: Inter-school cooperation;
. Action 2: Promoting schooling of migrants', gypsy and other itinerants' children;
. Action 3: Updating teachers' competences: cooperation between schools and mobility grants;

- Horizontal measures:

. Action 1: Promoting language skills (LINGUA):
. Action 2: Open and distance education and learning;
. Action 3: Promoting information and exchange of experiences (Eurydice and Arion).
The Commission will be assisted by an advisory committee composed of two representatives from each Member State and chaired by a Commission representative. The advisory committee will decide on the priorities in the Community measures and the annual workprogramme, the financial support and the breakdown between the different activities and the procedures for selection, evaluation and dissemination and transfer of results. There will also be observers to the committee - twelve representatives of the social partners, educators, parents, students, and young people, appointed by the Commission on the basis of proposals from non-governmental organizations operating at European level. The programme will be continuously monitored on a partnership basis involving the Community and Member States. Monitoring, financial management and control will be implemented by the Commission.

The Commission will submit an interim report on the launch phase to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, before 30 September 1998, and a final report on the implementation of the programme before 30 September 2000.