In 1998 France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Germany signed the Sorbonne Declaration on the "harmonisation of the architecture of the European Higher Education System".
In 1999, Ministers of Education from 29 European countries signed the Bologna Declaration which aims to create a coherent and cohesive European Higher Education Area (EHEA) by 2010. The main objectives outlined in this statement were as follows:
- adopt a system of easily readable and comparable degrees
- adopt a system with two main cycles (undergraduate/graduate)
- establish a system of credits (ECTS)
- promote mobility by overcoming legal recognition and administrative obstacles
- promote European co-operation in quality assurance
- promote a European dimension in higher education.
Since the adoption of the Bologna Declaration in 1999, European Ministers of Education have met every two years to further discuss and build upon the initial objectives. It is at this time that the Ministers produce a communiqué: the Prague (2001), Berlin (2003), Bergen (2005) and London (2007) communiqués each outline the progress made thus far as well as future short and long term priorities.
In Prague, it was agreed to add three more action lines:
• inclusion of lifelong learning strategies
• involvement of higher education institutions and students as essential partners in the Process
• promotion of the attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area.
In Berlin, they agreed to speed up the process by setting an intermediate deadline of 2005 for progress on:
• quality assurance
• the adoption of a system of degree structures based on two main cycles
• recognition of degrees.
Moreover, they decided to add the additional Action Line "Doctoral studies and promotion of young researchers", including specific mention of doctoral programmes as the third cycle in the Bologna Process.
In Bergen, Ministers committed themselves for their next meeting in 2007 to reinforcing the social dimension and removing obstacles to mobility, as well as to making progress on:
Implementing the agreed standards and guidelines for quality assuranceImplementing national frameworks of qualificationsAwarding and recognising joint degreesCreating opportunities for flexible learning paths in higher education
In the last ministerial meeting in London (17-18 May 2007) Ministers underlined that good overall progress has been made in the last two years in the realisation of the EHEA. However, many challenges still remain.
You can read the London Communiqué: Towards the European Higher Education Area: responding to challenges in a globalised world also in French.