This article describes and discusses the development of lifelong learning policy in two EU member states, Denmark and Portugal. The purpose is to show how different societal and historical contexts shape the development and implementation of lifelong learning policies, even though these policies have significant common elements. As a basis for the discussion an inventory of policy elements is presented. Denmark and Portugal have been chosen as examples of smaller EU member states with different historical, social and cultural characteristics. Developments and policies in the two countries, including the links with EU education policy, are described. The discussion includes comparison drawing on the inventory of policy elements. A main conclusion is that the different historical trajectories of the two countries remain very important for present-day education and for the advancement of lifelong learning policy. Early development of public primary education and popular adult education has provided a strong foundation for lifelong learning policy in Denmark while in Portugal not only institutional provision but also popular demand for lifelong learning has had to be built up relatively recently. EU education policy has had much more impact on lifelong learning policy in Portugal than in Denmark, because Portugal has had to depend much more on economic support from the EU social fund.
International Journal of Lifelong Education, 2014, p. 326-342