European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training - its policy background

ECVET has been continuously developed since the Copenhagen Declaration (European Commission, 2002), which stated the decision to create a system of credit transfer for vocational education and training by promoting transparency, comparability, transferability and recognition of competence and/or qualifications, between different countries and at different levels. Cedefop was involved in this process quite from the beginning and carried out, in 2003, a feasibility study which conducted to key elements of the future ECVET.

The communiqué of Maastricht (European Commission, 2004) gave priority to ECVET, underlining the importance of testing and implementing this instrument. In 2006/2007 the ECVET proposal was submitted to a Europe-wide consultation. At the same time also two European studies (ECVET connexion and ECVET reflector) contributed in defining the ECVET instrument.

The European communiqués of Helsinki (European Commission, 2006b) and Bordeaux (Bordeaux Communiqué, 2008) stressed out the importance of testing ECVET. The results were that ECVET has to be further developed and that ECVET/EQF related networks had to be build. It also strongly encouraged the learning outcomes approach and the need to establish links with Europass and validation processes. In June 2009 the European Parliament and the Council signed the European Recommendation on the establishment of ECVET.

The introduction of ECVET, like EQF, is based on voluntary involvement of the Member States and on mutual learning processes with monitoring, evaluation and peer review.