The EU’s Education Policy Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Discourse and Content Analysis

  • Vasileios Symeonidis Institute of Education Research and Teacher Education, University of Graz, Austria
  • Denis Francesconi Department of Teacher Education, University of Vienna, Austria
  • Evi Agostini Department of Teacher Education and Department of Education, University of Vienna, Austria
Keywords: Covid-19 pandemic, European Union, education recovery, response-ability, responsiveness


Following the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on education systems in Europe, the EU has been called upon to provide a concerted response to the crisis in a context where member states provided their own diverse responses. Against this background, the aim of this article is to uncover and critically examine the EU’s education policy discourse and promoted narratives since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, and by doing so evaluate the EU’s response-ability for education recovery during the crisis. A conceptual framework has been devised to analyse the responsiveness of an international entity, such as the EU, based on organisational and neo-institutionalist theories. Data were collected through a combination of discourse analysis and computer-assisted content analysis, which was applied to official EU education policy documents published in 2020. The following categories emerged from the analysis process, indicating that the EU perceives education recovery as: “upskilling and reskilling”, “digital transformation” and “sustainable development”. The findings suggest a substantial continuation between the EU’s pre- and post-Covid-19 strategy in the education sector, and even an acceleration in the same direction, revealing a lack of real change in the EU’s response, which was focused predominantly on the economic and employability approach to education.


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