bridges vol. 18, July 2008 / Letter from Brussels
by Sabine Neyer
Thematic years – their aim and their genesis
“What exactly is an EU year of a certain topic?” one might ask. This strange animal, the Thematic Year, is not extinct, not even on the endangered species list. In fact, there are quite a few of them around, like the UN Year, the UNESCO Year, the Year of the Council of Europe, and others. They are linked by their common interest and aim: to put a special topic in the social and political spotlight for one year. But still the question is, what do they cost, what do they accomplish, and for what reason do we have a European Year of Creativity and Innovation?
Members of the European Parliament and the Ministers of Education and Higher Education have often stressed the importance of finding a balance between the requirements of the economic world and the broad cultural dimension of education, which more than ever seems to be an area of conflict. As early as 2006 – probably some efforts for a shorter implementation process should be made here – several Education Ministers suggested a “European Year of Education and Culture 2009.” After some moments of reflection, the European Commission came to the conclusion that Creativity should be dealt with in the broader realm of Education. Therefore a European Year of Creativity and Education should be promoted.
The final agreement was to proclaim the “European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009.” The importance of this change is that the focus was widened from Education only, to Research and Innovation. Therefore, the Year will be under the auspices of the Education ministers, but research and innovation topics will be included.
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