Policy-making in the European Community in the area of education for migrants is driven by two conflicting pressures. On one side, the principle of effectiveness requires that the rights of free movement within the Community be supported by the best possible education for the children of migrants. However, on the other side is the importance of primary education to the member States as a political and cultural matter. This pressure is reinforced by the principle of subsidiarity. Member States have been relatively willing to support co-operative action by the Community in the area of higher education, such as in the ERASMUS exchange programmes. However, member States have been active in protecting their jurisdiction over education policy, particularly at the primary and secondary levels. As result, Community laws protecting the education rights of migrants have been most effective where two factors are present: first, that the rules are closely attached to the rights of free movement within the single market; and second, that the rules interfere as little as possible with substantive education policy. The first factor constitutes a significant weakness in Community education rights because it has created a distinction between Community migrants and those from third countries. The second factor has meant that the only Community policy on the education of migrants which could be described as an education right is the guarantee of equality of access to education within a member State.

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