The European Union adopted lifelong learning in the early 1990s, amid the breakup of the socialist bloc and the rise of neoliberal globalization. This chapter outlines the main policy developments over the past three decades. The significance of “active labour market” policies, debates over “active citizenship” and “governance,” and the 1999 crisis in the European Commission are discussed. The Lisbon Strategy (2000–2010) and the related application of the Open Method of Co-ordination in education, initially greeted by some with optimism as harbinger of a European “education space” open to civil society influence, soon established itself as a framework for developing and implementing broadly neoliberal policies. Responses to EU enlargement, the post-2008 recession, and populist Euroscepticism reflected this thinking. The main developments since 2010 are described, including the Europe 2020 strategy and the European Semester. While economistic thinking has predominated, social inclusion has been a continual, if subsidiary, theme.
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