Source: European Educational Research Journal, Volume 9 Number 3, p. 359 380. (2010).
The present article critically examines the work of the European Commission-sponsored network, the European Expert Network on Economics of Education (EENEE).
The aim is to develop understanding of the context and significance of the mobilization of the economics of education research and policy paradigm within the European Union’s Education and Training 2010 Work Programme.
Drawing on a summary of the paradigm and critical assessment of policy texts produced by the network, the article examines the strategic opportunities which the paradigm offers the Commission in its attempts to promote reform of member state education and training systems.
It is argued that the policy documents produced by the Commission drawing on the work of the EENEE demonstrate the intention to promote the network’s findings as the basis for education reform. However, in key respects, the paradigm has proved unable to gain member state commitment to pursuing an economics of education agenda for reform.
The established European Union policy on ‘efficiency and equity in education and training’ displays a marked reluctance to frame education and training funding in economic terms while at the same time drawing on key economics of education policy priorities such as preschool education, and the importance of ongoing reflection on the funding of higher education.
In conclusion, the article argues that the Commission has mobilized the economics of education politically and strategically. However, the author claims that tactical and selective use of an economic evidence base within the negotiation of European Union policy positions has done more to establish the European Union level as a factor in the governance of education and training than to produce effects in terms of the shifting of policy discourse or preference in the formulation of agreed European Union policy texts.