ESL in the EU : differences and common trends

jeudi 12 novembre 2015, par Urška Štremfel

Mots clés : UE  Politique d’apprentissage 

ESL is a multi-faceted and complex problem caused by a cumulative process of disengagement (TWG 2013, 4). At least two explanations can be provided, why there are such differences in how EU member states understand and deal with the ESL problem. First is that ESL is a social and evolving phenomenon and consequently there is no single response to it (e.g. Brunello & De Paola, 2013). Second reason is that EU cooperation in the field of education is nonbinding and works on voluntary basis which means that there is no single (formal) policy regarding ESL (e.g. Alexiadou, 2007). Consequently very unique ways of achieving the common goal (reducing the average EU rate of early school leavers to less than 10% by 2020) are developed at the level of member states (taking account their institutional and cultural background etc.). According to policy learning theory (e.g. Radaelli, 2003), these differences should be seen as a luckily situation, which enables sharing of (good) practices and therefore enhance the possibilities of finding common characteristics of different national/regional/local/institutional specific solutions. One of the important approaches in identifying such good practices (and what really works in reducing ESL) are policy experimentations, conducted also within the TITA project. Since the results of the policy experiments need to be thoroughly contextualized in order to become a mainstreamed practice also in other educational systems, the article provides the in depth understanding of the peculiarities, differences and commonalities of the educational systems (including ESL situation) participating in the TITA project (France, Spain and Luxemburg). The article therefore provides an important and solid base for scalability and exploitation of the TITA results to the EU level and to the level of other EU member states.


(2007). The Europeanisation of education policy – changing governance and »new modes of coordination« . Research in Comparative and International Education, 2(2), 102–116.

& (1978). Organizational learning : A theory of action perspective. New York : McGraw-Hill.

& (1992). The lessons of learning : Reconciling theories of policy learning and policy change. Policy Sciences, 25(3), 275–294.

& (2012). Regional policies and individual capabilities : Drawing lessons from two experimental programs fighting early school leaving in France. Social Work & Society, 10(1), 1–19.

(2005). An introduction to the policy process : Theories, concepts, and models of public policy making. New York : M.E. Sharpe.

(1999). Social construction and integration. Journal of European Public Policy, 6(4), 545–560.

. (2009). Council conclusions of 12 May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’). Retrieved from

. (2015). Council conclusions on reducing early school leaving and promoting success in school. Retrieved from

& (1996). Who learns what from whom : A review of the policy transfer literature. Political Studies, 44(2), 343–357.

& (2000). Learning from abroad : The role of policy transfer in contemporary policy-making. Governance, 13(1), 5–24.

& (2010). Systematizing policy learning. Paper presented at American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, 2–5 September, Washington, USA.

. (2015). Guidelines for planning and conducting a European policy experimentation project involving field trials. Retrieved from

(2002). Policy learning in embedded negotiations : Explaining EU electricity liberalization. International Organization, 56(1), 85–120.

& (1983). Thinking about government learning. Journal of Management Studies, 20(1), 41–58.

. (2016). European Semester Thematic Fiche. Early Leavers from Education and Training. Retrieved from

. (2000). Presidency Conclusions. Lisbon European Council. 23 and 24 March 2000. Retrieved from

. (2017). Early leavers from education and training. Retrieved from

, , , , & (2012). Definicija javnopolitičnega učenja. Rezultat temeljnega raziskovalnega projekta Javne agencije za raziskovalno dejavnost Republike Slovenije »Odprta metoda koordinacije : analiza njenih javnopolitičnih (policy) in političnih posledic« (J5-2030), 1. 5. 2009–30. 4. 2012. Ljubljana : Center za politološke raziskave.

(2010). Who learns from what in policy diffusion processes ? American Journal of Political Science, 54(3), 650–666.

(2012). Transnational diffusion : Norms, ideas and policies. In W. Carlsnaes, T. Risse & B. Simmons (Eds.) Handbook of International Relations, Second edition, (pp. 453–477). Thousand Oaks : Sage.

& (2012). Governance and learning. In D. Levi-Faur (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Governance (pp. 155–168). Oxford : Oxford University Press.

(2006). The Open Method of Coordination as practice – A watershed in European education policy ? Oslo : University of Oslo, Arena Working Paper, No. 16/2006.

(2009). Governing by numbers : The PISA “effect” in Europe. Journal of Education Policy, 24(1), 23–37.

& (1996). Implementation as communicative action. An interpretative understanding of interactions between policy actors and target groups. Policy Sciences, 29(4), 291–319.

& (2007). Theories of policy learning : Agency, structure and change. In F. Fischer, G. J. Handbook of Policy Analysis : Theory, Politics, and Methods, (eds.), Frank Fischer, Gerald J. Miller and Mara S. Sidney (pp. 581–604). Boca Raton, London, New York : Taylor and Francis.

(1993). Policy paradigms, social learning, and the state : The case of economic policy-making in Britain. Comparative Politics, 25(3), 275–296.

(2009). Learning about policy learning. Reflections on the European Employment Strategy. European Integration online Papers, 13(1) : 1–16.

(1972). Review Article : Policy Analysis. British Journal of Political Science, 2(1) : 83–108.

& (2001). Learning and mimicking : How European welfare states reform. Amsterdam : University of Amsterdam, Working Paper.

& (2003). Policy learning in European welfare states. Amsterdam : University of Amsterdam, Working Paper.

& (2005). Causes and conditions of cross-national policy convergence. Journal of European Public Policy, 12(5), 775–796.

(2014). Who knows what school leavers and graduates are doing ? Comparing information systems within Europe. Comparative Education, 50(4), 448–473.

(2009). Policy ideas, learning, and international institutions. Paper presented at Midwest Political Science Association Annual Conference, 2–5 April, Chicago, USA.

& (2013). Is there anything specific about early school leaving in Southeast Europe ? A review of research and policy. European Journal of Education, 48(3), 363–377.

(2005). Opening the black box : Developing a framework to analyse process of cross-national learning. Paper presented at Young Researchers Workshop of The European Network for Social Policy Analysis (ESPAnet), University of Bath, 1 and 2 April, Bath, Great Britain.

& (2007). Policy learning in Europe : The open method of co-ordination and laboratory federalism. Journal of European Public Policy, 14(2), 227–247.

& (2010). Policy learning and governance of education policy in the EU. Journal of Education Policy, 25(4), 443–463.

(2007). EU Education Policy Development Tools and the Open Method of Coordination »Advancing the European Education Agenda« . Retrieved from

& (1988). Organizational learning. Annual Review of Sociology, 14, 319–340.

, , & (2015). The construction of early school leaving as a political concept under the lenses of sociology of education. Profesorado, 19(3), 28–42.

(1992). Policy learning and failure. Journal of Public Policy, 12(4), 331–354.

& (1996). Lessons from experience. Experiential learning in administrative reforms in eight democracies. Oslo : Scandinavian University Press.

(2003). Learning, governance and economic policy. The British Journal of Politics & International Relations, 5(4), 500–524.

& (2000). Governance, Politics and the State. New York : St. Martin’s Press.

(2003). The Open Method of Coordination : A new governance architecture for the European Union ? Stockholm : Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies, SIEPS Working Paper, No. 2003:1.

(2004). Who learns what ? Policy learning and the open method of coordination. Paper presented at Economic and Social Research Council Workshop on the Lisbon Strategy, University of Birmingham, 26. November, Birmingham, Great Britain.

(2008). Europeanization, policy learning, and new modes of governance. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, 10(3), 239–254.

(2002). Lesson-drawing in public policy : A guide to learning across time and space. New York : Chatham House Publishers.

(2005). Learning from Comparative Public Policy : A Practical Guide. London : Routledge.

(1993). Policy change over a decade or more. In P. R. Lee & C. L. Estes (Eds.). The Nation’s Health (pp. 143–174). London : Jones and Bartlett Publishers Canada.

(2012). Understanding policy borrowing and lending. Building comparative policy studies. In G. Steiner-Khamsi & F. Waldow (2012). Policy Borrowing and Lending in Education (pp. 3-17). London : Routledge.

(1999). Learning lessons and transferring policy across time, space and disciplines. Politics, 19(1), 51–59.

. (n.d.). Data collection on and monitoring of Early School Leaving (ESL). Draft analysis of the results from the mapping exercise on data collection and monitoring of ESL.

(2011). Does Europe 2020 represent learning from the Lisbon Strategy ? Paper presented at Biannual European Union Studies Association (EUSA) Conference, 3–5 March, Boston, USA.

, & (2008). A formal model of learning and policy diffusion. American Political Science Review, 102(3), 319–332.

& (2009). Learning theory reconsidered : EU integration theories and learning. Journal of European Public Policy, 16(8), 1103–1123.