paper presented at the XXII CESE conference, Granada, Spain, 3-6 July
In recent years there has been a rising political attention on competence development both at national and international level. At European level in particular, since 2000, with the set of the Lisbon Agenda, different bodies representing the Union have been very productive in generating working papers, reports, and communications that led to directives and resolutions concerning the development and recognition of skills and competences in a lifelong learning perspective. In 2005 this process led to the definition of a European Framework on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning - covering those competences that are given priority within the Union - as well as a European Qualification Framework, a reference tool for making qualifications - here described in terms of progressive levels of competence - transparent and transferable within the European borders. The aim of the paper is to investigate this recent development in EU competence policies. The paper is organized in four parts. The first part describes the context. The second part engages in a methodological reflection on ways of describing, analysing and interpreting current competence policies. It looks at discourse analysis as a theoretical framework for a comparative study of discourses and ideas that contributed to the current construction of competence development as a powerful political concept at European level. The third part presents preliminary results of ongoing analysis of policy texts, showing mismatches between the political rhetoric on competence development in different political fields. Finally, the paper concludes with a brief discussion of the possible implications for policy research.