Answer given by M. Šefčovič to written question from 5 Slovenian MEPs

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Answer given by M. Šefčovič on behalf of the Commission (17.8.2012)

The European Schools are managed by an intergovernmental organisation. A decision on a horizontal split requires unanimity in its Board of Governors (BoG). The Commission has sympathies for this idea, but regarding Luxembourg I and II it was rejected by the BoG in 2003, and the decision could not be reversed later on. Luxembourg II opens in September 2012, specifically equipped for all kindergarten and school levels.

All but one of the Member States, whose national languages are taught at Luxembourg II voted for the present language section distribution in 2004, respectively accepted it upon accession.

Thus a BoG decision to have the Luxembourg school system analysed in view of a horizontal split is unlikely.

The Commission supports the transport plan developed by the parents’ association (ATSEE), Luxembourg II and the Luxembourg government.

The plan foresees, i.a., a train station, several public and 15 special school bus lines from and to the pupils’ residences, and shuttles from and to collection points close to the workplaces. This service will cover up to 5 stops before school and 1 secured reception area after school.

ATSEE organises late shuttles leaving at 6 p.m. the after-school childcare (CPE V) for Luxembourg I.

In the interest of the children, CPE V is on the school site and late shuttles are ensured. It is not intended to complement this by childcare facilities elsewhere.

There is agreement on the organisation of the bus lines. Luxembourg is expected to pay for the shuttles to and directly after school. Discussions about the 15 school bus lines are on-going. A decision is expected shortly.

The fees for the adult supervision in the (late) shuttles organised by ATSEE are transport costs covered by the education allowance for school children.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Full of misconceptions: even the Luxembourgish authorities admitted that the train transport is not safe enough for children younger than 12 years to travel unaccompanied. As for the transport cost for the shuttles organised by ATSEE, the education allowance for the youngest children (maternelle) does not cover it. Public and special school bus lines are not appropriate for the youngest children to travel alone. The only alternative for the youngest children are the shuttles, meaning that they will have to spend about 3 hours daily commuting and their parents will need to pay extra for the adult supervision in the shuttles. Just great.

  2. Totally agree.
    He is a politician so a lot of talking and almost no action. Like with all politician we should put more pressure on them and when they realise that it will be less stressful (and less work) for them just to accept horizontal split they will accept it.

  3. Answer by M. Šefčovič is not quite factually accurate.
    Have a look at the attached annotated extract from the minutes of a BoG meeting 15-March-2004.

    Italy voted against.
    Greece abstained.

    This debate took place when there was only 15 countries in the EU so ALL MEMBER STATES did not approve it.

    I believe also that at the time all decisions with financial or pedagogical implications had to be unanimous, but this decision concerning the splitting of the school to create a new school, which definitely had such financial implication, was not unanimous.

    Italy asked the steering committee to prepare a detailed description of the criteria which led to this language section distribution, but this was never done.

    Šefčovič’s letter never stated that the Luxembourg Representative on the BoG had declared that he would never, ever, accept a horizontal split.

    The location of the CPE V in Bertrange is NOT IN THE INTEREST OF THE CHILDREN, quite the opposite.

    • “C’est le propre de l’homme de se tromper; seul l’insensé persiste dans son erreur”, Cicéron

      The fact that the decision to split the school vertically was made before the 2004 enlargement and that almost half of the EU Member States did not have their say in this matter, is not acceptable and should be emphasised in actions in favour of the horizontal split. At the very least a new vote involving all EU countries should be seeked.
      Personally, I have no direct personal interest in the horizontal split, as my children are at secondary school anyway and would therefore stay in Mamer, but I still wish to defend this split for the following reasons.
      My first reason is a question of principle, discrimination between EU staff should be prevented, as it will only lead to conflicts and tensions between LUX I and LUX II parents in the workplace, and all families should be put on equal footing. From September onwards, amongst parents, there will be two types of EU staff in the institutions: the parents of LUX I children – who can work flexible hours (CPE at Kirchberg), whose children are at school near their workplace/ residence and can live a decent life – and the parents of LUX II children – who don’t have access to a CPE near their office and must comply with the bus times, whose children must spend long hours in cars, buses or trains, and who will have a hard time working 40 hours a week when the new staff regulations come into force.
      It is unacceptable that EU staff are not treated in the same way – equal treatment in the workplace is a basic principle in my opinion, as mentioned in Art. 1d of the Staff Regulations – which can only mean having all young children at LUX I and secondary pupil at LUX II, i.e a horizontal split. This situation will lead to tensions and conflicts between parents of LUX I and LUX II children and a deterioration of the working atmosphere (“divide and conquer”); parents of LUX II pupils do not get the support of their institution, because they are isolated amongst staff having their children at LUX – who keep quiet about the issue and would fight the horizontal split if it were debated.
      Of course, we are also concerned by an important educational aspect: the options available at secondary school; it should not be neglected, we have to ensure that our children can have access to all options presently offered at LUX I, and this can only be achieved by getting enough pupils to open options, i.e. having all secondary sections of all languages on the same site.
      A third reason why I would be in favour of the horizontal split is practical and ecological: transport for secondary children can more easily be arranged than for nursery/ primary /secondary sections in Mamer. It would prove less costly for the institutions /Luxembourg State as well, and less traffic would affect the Bertrange/Mamer area.
      I am very disappointed that no drastic action has been taken in favour of getting access to CPE Kirchberg for LUX II children, this would have been a great help for a good number of families. Contrary to decisions related to the school, decisions regarding the CPE are taken at the level of the institutions (and there was an interesting post on the blog, regarding the fact that Commission infrastructure, consequently the CPE, must be in Luxembourg city, this requirement should be used as an argument).
      As human beings, we are often confronted with our own mistakes and misjudgments, we are expected to apologize for them, revise them, and put things right, why can’t the authorities do likewise in the present context ?
      I am not convinced that the transport issue is the core problem, but rather that the main issue is that there should be no discrimination between EU civil servants nor between children attending European schools, all must enjoy the same living and working conditions, . As previously said, having a horizontal split would not change the situation much for my family, but at least it would make me feel that we are all in the same boat and treated equally.

  4. How is ti possible then that such a serious decision was taken, if according to the Commission (see Mr. Sevcovic´s first answer to our letter), a UNANIMITY is required and Italy voted against with Greece abstaining????
    And also seeing the present state of the facilities in Mamer with less that one week left to the opening of the school, I would really appreciate if I could see a certificate of the final technical inspection.

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Aim of the European Schools

Educated side by side, untroubled from infancy by divisive prejudices, acquainted with all that is great and good in the different cultures, it will be borne in upon them as they mature that they belong together. Without ceasing to look to their own lands with love and pride, they will become in mind Europeans, schooled and ready to complete and consolidate the work of their fathers before them, to bring into being a united and thriving Europe.

Marcel Decombis, Head of European School, Luxembourg between 1953 and 1960