A Digital Education Action Plan

This article was published under the 2020-2025 European Committee of the Regions mandate.



Last updated 5 November 2021





Gillian Coughlan, Mayor of Cork, and a teacher herself, discussed the place of the teachers at the heart of the European education area during a Renew Europe webinar with Ilana Cicurel MEP.

Other participants of the webinar on 28 October 2021 included Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, research, Culture, Education and Youth, Jean Michel Blanquer, French Minister of National Education, Li Andersson, Finish Minister of Education and Culture, among others.


Adopted at the European Committee of the Regions Plenary

20 April 

During a briefing exchange on the Digital Green Certificate between Renew Europe members from the CoR and the Renew Europe group in the European Parliament, Gillian Coughlan raised the Erasmus programme in educational programmes to Ramón BAUZÁ MEP:

“In 2019, 11,319 Irish people took part in the Erasmus programme, so I acknowledge the enormous benefit that this programme affords pupils, students, trainees and educators across the European Union. The Covid 19 pandemic interrupted the experience for many students. The Digital Green Certificate will assist people who are interested in participating in the Erasmus programme in future.”

21 January

CoR re-launches CoR-EC Broadband Platform to discuss connectivity and digital transformation: ​​​​​In 2017, the Committee of the Regions and the European Commission jointly launched the Broadband Platform with the aim to help high-speed broadband reach all European regions, including rural and sparsely populated areas where there is not enough market-driven development. ​Since then, the Platform has been a key instrument in making the voice of local and regional authorities heard through the important added value of the CoR and its members, feeding into the European Commission’s policy-making process. In view of the twin transformation on green and digital, the upcoming digital decade and the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the mandate of the Broadband Platform is more important than ever today.   

During the 2021 kickoff meeting, Gillian Coughlan (Fianna Fáil) highlighted the need to fous on connectivity for European citizens. As a teacher, she saw how during the previous lockdown, students couldn’t connect online to follow their classes or do their homework! 

Discussion with EPP CoR Member Borboly who is Rapporteur on European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience



18 December
Discussion on the digital education plan with Georgi Dimitrov, Acting Head of Unit “Innovation and EIT”.

14 December
Discussion on the digital education plan with Mrs. Janine Costa, Education Attaché, (Coordination Education, Youth and Sports) – Portuguese Presidency and her colleagues 

10 December

As a speaker, the rapporteur participated in the “3rd education summit: High-level Panel Education and training fit for a digital and green 21st century” which was also attended by European Commissioner Gabriel, MEP Negrescu and the Ministers Celaa Dieguez (ES), Velcovsky (CZ) and Fuchs (HR). Coughlan’s main message was that “the student’s voice needs to be heard when creating a digital education ecosystem, as they are very vocal about their need to learn together, so while there is a clear need to equip technically and skill-wise all teacher and students, we should not forget about the physical environment and it’s importance”.

2 December

Speaker at the Public Hearing of the CULT Committee of the European Parliament: “The education package: aims, challenges and prospects for success”. Her main message: “the importance of ensuring the requisit teacher qualifications, supported and certified throughout the EU in accordance with the same guidelines. Moreover, cross-border cooperation between universities for this purpose should be prioritised under the available EU funds.”

November 2020

Gillian Coughlan appointed as rapporteur for the Digital Education Action Plan. 

Prior to her appointment as rapporteur, Gillian Coughlan, as representative of the European Committee of the Regions on the European Broadband Platform, spoke at a high-level online eventt ending the public consultation on the New Digital Education Action Plan for Europe.  Speaking shortly after the introductory remarks of the European Commission’s Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, who is responsible for the EU’s digital policies, Coughlan urged the Commission’s Vice-President to create a level playing field for every European student and teacher, and highlighted a message that she has emphasized repeatedly at EU level: “Access to broadband is a huge problem all across the Union. Teachers had to drastically change their methods when the COVID19 pandemic hit us, but many schools and teachers were not prepared to switch to digital. Thousands of students have lost out and that is why it is so essential to put in place the digital infrastructure that will give all students and teachers equal chances to prosper and develop their skills.”

gillian 3



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