European Qualifications Framework - its policy background

The European Qualifications Framework knows a long preparatory phase dating back to the ‘European forum on transparency of vocational qualifications’ in 1998. The aim of this forum was to support and facilitate the mobility of workers in Europe by creating transparency of vocational qualifications. Also the agreements between Ministers at the Lisbon Council in 2000 , the Copenhagen process and the Bologna process have an important impact on the EQF development.  

Concerning the creation of EQF, in 2005, EU Heads of Government requested the creation of the policy tool. This was the basis for a huge public consultations on the EQF of policy makers, social partners, stakeholders and experts in qualifications systems in Europe. In 2005/2006 the consultation round was organized. It called for clarification, simplification and testing of the framework. The stakeholders brought up also other issues like the definition of level descriptors (particularly concerning competences), the link to the higher education framework and the Bologna process and the link between national qualifications systems and the EQF.  

The initial plan for the EQF also included credit transfer (besides the qualification levels). In the consultation round this was declared to be too complex to implement. That’s why the EQF (qualifications) and ECVET (credits) were considered two separate (though connected) processes.  

In 2006 the Commission published the consultation document witch states that the success of the EQF depends on its credibility and relevance for education institutes, employers, policy makers and individual learners. After the consultation process, the Recommendation of the Parliament and the Council was accepted in April 2008. The Recommendation strongly recommend voluntary involvement of countries, but without any legal obligations. 

At EU level the development and the implementation of the EQF has a strong commitment from the institutions involved (EC, Cedefop, ETF and the Council of Europe). Furthermore since the development of the EQF (prior to the recommendation) the implementation has been supported by projects within the Life Long Learning Programme (2006-2013).