Switzerland does not belong to the EU, and the possibility of joining it scarcely figures as a topic of debate among the population. However, Switzerland is virtually part of the EU through its central position in Europe, economic links, the adoption of a host of European standards and regulations and wide participation in the whole of the European process as regards training and education.
InfoNet - Claude Merazzi
Economic and legal roots: win - win
It can seem necessary that Switzerland and the various facets of EU politics are closely linked when you consider the strengthening and development of the rights of the Swiss in the bosom of the great European market (jobs, mobility, recognition of titles and training, etc) on the one hand, and in return the enhancement of positive factors of economic growth and wealth creation in Switzerland (free movement of people and goods, the immigration of a qualified workforce often lacking within the country, etc) while allowing them to maintain a role in the economic, social and cultural development of the countries of the EU.
The training sector
The training sector represents an essential aspect of this close collaboration between the EU countries and Switzerland. Whether it is a matter of, for example, the Bologna Process (the required reorganisation now being almost entirely achieved in university-level training networks in Switzerland) or the Copenhagen Process (a national qualification framework, a reference table of skills, a European qualification framework), in the last few decades, Switzerland has always been mindful of participation in European endeavours in the fields of training and research by means of bilateral agreements.
This willingness to collaborate, to participate and to trade can also be seen in the continuing education sector, in the training of adults. There is a wide range of players, largely because of the complexity of the political structure of the Swiss Confederation, the role of the cantons and the indisputable weight of the non-governmental organisations and associations. Grundtvig represented approximately 10% of Swiss participation in such projects and the 67 projects supported up to 2007 received a total of 2.8M CHF.
If the relevant state bodies (federal offices, national commissions, official organs, etc) are set the essential task of defining the fundamental political options, implementing their realisation and attending to the legal, financial and contractual regulation of these commitments, the partners in the wider community - the educational institutions - are at the heart of the dynamic of collaboration by their commitment to and their participation in numerous European projects.
The example of the Swiss Federation for Continuing Education (Fédération suisse pour la formation continue, FSEA)
The central organisation of continuing education in Switzerland, the Swiss Federation for Continuing Education, plays a leading role in this respect. Its partners are the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA), the German Institute for Adult Education (Deutsches Institut für Erwachsenenbildung,DIE) and the FUNOC training organisation at the Open University of Charleroi. The FSEA participates in twenty or so European projects in priority areas of continuing education: promoting basic skills in adults (projects such as Back to School, GuideMe, WoLLNet), continuing education in business (projects: GATOM, ODESSA, SER), the professionalisation of continuing education (projects: Parenting in a Multicultural European City, Flexi Path, IBAK), raising awareness of adult education (projects: ALWE, EASY, as well as taking responsibility for the now annual Festival of Training), communication and the exchange of information (projects: INFONET I and II). This is not an exhaustive list of projects, but it gives an idea of the involvement of the FSEA which is becoming ever more significant through its increasing participation in European projects.
Swiss participation in the European Lifelong Learning Programme 2007-2013 represents an undeniable opening and enrichment for the whole training landscape in Switzerland. Conversely, Swiss participation in European projects enriches the debate and the practices of adult education through multicultural, multilingual and decentralised dimensions of experience and achievement in Switzerland. It cannot be denied that this is mutually beneficial and of great benefit to the communities.