The Lifelong Learning Programme is a European Comission programme directed towards all levels of education and training. It was established in 2002 by Decision No.1720/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, continuing on the previous generation of education programmes, namely Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci (1985 – 2006). The aim of the new programme is to contribute to the development of the Europe as an advanced knowledge-based society with sustainable economic development, more and better jobs and greater social cohesion. With that aim, tne Programme fosters exchange and cooperation between education institutions and individual mobility of pupils/students, education experts and persons already in the labour market. The programme covers the period from 2007-2013, and a total of EUR 6.9 billion has been allocated for its implementation at the European level. Participants in the Programme are the 27 EU Member States and Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Croatia and Turkey.
The Lifelong Learning Programme is made up of four sector sub-programmes:
> The Comenius programme
is intended for preschool, elementary and secondary school general education. It promotes learning and understanding the diversity of European cultures and languages, leading to an increase of the quality of school education in Europe;
> The Erasmus programme
is directed at higher education. In the framework of this programme, individual mobility and participation in European education projects are possible. With that, education institutions gain international experience, there is an increase in the mobility of participants within the education system, competitiveness and employability are improved, and there is a better exchange of experience, knowledge and teaching methods;
> The Leonardo da Vinci programme
covers vocational education and training at all levels of the education sector (apart from mobility in higher education which is covered by the Erasmus programme);
> The Grundtvig programme
is intended for the general adult education, as a means to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to be able to face various organization and business challenges, and improve the basic quality of living. Education under the Grundtvig programme can be formal, non-formal or informal.
The Lifelong Learning Programme offer also two complementary programmes:
> The transversal programme covers activities across all sectors of education and training. It supports activities such as: cooperation in policy and innovation in lifelong learning; promotion of foreign languages; development of innovation, information and communication technologies based on content, service, pedagogy and practicum in lifelong learning; dissemination and use of the results of activities which are financed from the Lifelong Learning programme and all related programmes, and the exchange of best practice. Most of the activities of the transversal programme (except study visits) are implemented by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) in Bruxelles;
> The Jean Monnet programme supports education and research on European integration within as well as outside of the EU. The goal is to promote activities for instruction and research in European integration studies and provide support to the operations of a number of institutions and associations which are focussed on European integration as well as education and training in the European perspective.
Activities within the Lifelong Learning Programme can be centralised and decentralised. The Executive Agency for Education, Audiovisual and Culture (EACEA) is responsible for management of centralized activities implemented under the Lifelong Learning Programme (multilateral projects, thematic networks, the Transversal programme and the Jean Monnet programme). The Agency for Mobility and EU programmes is responsible for the implementation of decentralized activities such as mobilities and partnerships.