Vote: Bologna process, Paragraph 2/3, March 2012.
In 1999 the ministers of education of the EU Member States met in Bologna (Italy) to discuss ways to promote student mobility (i.e. studying abroad) and to improve the quality of higher education, through the creation of a European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Ministers wanted to establish a system where university degrees would be comparable and thus recognised in different countries. A European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) and common quality assurance standards were at the heart of this proposal. This became known as the Bologna Process.
Under EU law, education policy is the prerogative of Member States. The EU is not competent to act. Therefore, participation in the Bologna Process is voluntary. No legally binding decisions can be taken. Despite this, the education ministers of the EU Member States meet regularly to evaluate progress and to exchange best practices.
The last big gathering took place in 2012 in Bucharest (Romania), where ministers decided on next steps. As the Bologna Process still lags behind expectations, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution in which it urged the EU Institutions and Member States get their act together. In particular, MEPs asked for the harmonisation of academic standards, whereby the various national academic standards would change to a common European one.