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The Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the Ministry of Education and Science place young people at the centre of the debate on the future of Europe, as they contribute to the generation of new and innovative ideas. The future competitiveness of our economies will depend on their capabilities and skills. They will indeed live in the renewed European Union.

The overarching aim of the debate will be to safeguard the level of European investments in education and scientific research, including with a view to providing access to education and skills development at any age, and promoting digital, entrepreneurial and creative skills, and providing adequate infrastructure for education, training, and scientific research.

A key priority of the Bulgarian Presidency will be the continuation of the work on the European Commission package on 'Modernising Education – Youth Initiative' and the progress on the New Skills Agenda for Europe. An emphasis will be given to the mid-term review of the Erasmus+ Programme and facilitating political discussions on its future in the context of the forthcoming European Commission's proposal for the new Multiannual Financial Framework.

The Bulgarian Presidency will work towards achieving general agreement within the Education Committee of the Council on the proposal for a Council Recommendation regarding the promotion of social inclusion and shared values through formal and non-formal education and training, and the proposal for a Recommendation to amend the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning.

In the context of the initiative for the creation of a European Education Area by 2025, outlined in the European Commission’s Communication 'Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture', the Bulgarian Presidency will work with all stakeholders to formulate an Action Plan for digital education, developing digital skills and digital literacy. A conference on the topic will be held in the City of Sofia in April 2018.

In the Research and Innovation sector, the Bulgarian Presidency will propose for adoption Council Conclusions on the optimization of knowledge transfer and acceleration of research results, including broader access to research results by industry and society throughout the European Union. Bulgaria will work for the adoption of Council Conclusions on further implementation of the multilateral collaborative project, International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). Furthermore, conclusions will be drawn and suggestions will be made on the roadmap for governance and funding of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) initiative. The efforts will be focused on extending the term of the Regulation on Euratom Programme for research and training of the European Atomic Energy Community (2019-2020) in addition to the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation “Horizon 2020” until 31 December 2020. It will start work on the Proposal for a Regulation on the framework for cooperation in High-Performance Computing (EuroHPC).