Work programme of the Bologna Follow-Up Group 2001-2003

The work of the Bologna Follow-Up Group and the Bologna Preparatory Group

The steering bodies of the Bologna process have been responsible for the successful implementation of decisions from Prague; in particular, to explore the most important issues through a series of follow-up seminars, carefully prepared in advance and attracting all partners. On the other hand, they also had to take care of the steering process itself: to reflect on and evaluate their own work, advantages and deficiencies of structures, and methods developed since Bologna and Prague.

Content for Bologna Expert - 19/09/2003
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In the Prague Communiqué, Ministers committed themselves to continuing their co-operation based on the objectives set out in the Bologna Declaration. They also confirmed the need for a structure for the follow-up work, consisting of a follow-up group and a preparatory group:

The follow-up group should be composed of representatives of all signatories, new participants and the European Commission, and should be chaired by the EU Presidency at the time. The preparatory group should be composed of representatives of the countries hosting the previous ministerial meetings and the next ministerial meeting, two EU member states and two non-EU member states; these latter four representatives will be elected by the follow-up group. The EU Presidency at the time and the European Commission will also be part of the preparatory group. The preparatory group will be chaired by the representative of the country hosting the next ministerial meeting.

The Communiqué also stated:

The European University Association (EUA), the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education (EURASHE), the National Unions of Students in Europe (ESIB) and the Council of Europe should be consulted in the follow-up work.

Ministers finally encouraged the Bologna follow-up group to arrange a series of international seminars to explore the most important issues:

co-operation concerning accreditation and quality assurance, recognition issues and the use of credits in the Bologna process, the development of joint degrees, the social dimension with specific attention to obstacles to mobility, the enlargement of the Bologna process, lifelong learning and student involvement.

The Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG)

Immediately after Prague, new inter-governmental structures for the Bologna process and a work programme for the period between Prague and Berlin were established. Based on decisions of the Prague Communiqué, the former “enlarged group” – with four new members: Croatia, Cyprus, Turkey and Liechtenstein – became the Follow-up Group of the Bologna Process (BFUG). The group met in September 2001 at the first meeting after the Prague Summit. The former steering group was abolished, as the steering task had become entirely the competence of BFUG, presided over by the consecutive EU-Presidencies, i.e. Belgium (2nd semester 2001), Spain (1st semester 2002), Denmark (2nd semester 2002), Greece (1st semester 2003) and Italy (2nd semester 2003).

Work programme

BFUG outlined an agenda which dictated the organization of the following meetings: the group discussed the first outline of the Berlin Summit and plans for the follow-up activities in general, responsibilities of the BPG, information from the Commission and other organizations, information about seminars of international relevance which member countries intended to organize, etc. BFUG decided to centre the proposed seminars and other events on these topics, as chosen in Prague.

The topics were later developed into six clusters (as can be clearly seen in retrospect, this programme can also be read as consisting of two major components: a complex of issues on degree structures and qualifications on the one hand and the social dimension of higher education on the other). The clusters are as follows:

BFUG Meetings

During the period 2001-2003, BFUG met six times (Brussels, 13 September 2001; Santander, 24 May 2002; Copenhagen, 4 November 2002; Athens, 18 February 2003; Athens, 20-21 June 2003; Berlin, 17 September 2003) but also extensively used IT as their means of communication. At its sessions, BFUG constantly monitored the Bologna process: taking note of information on meetings of the BPG and discussing its proposals and initiatives, in particular preparation and organization of the Berlin Summit; paying constant attention to the preparation and results of official Bologna seminars as well as to other scheduled meetings, events and initiatives related to the Bologna process, etc. Because of the large number of seminars, it was agreed that for each seminar a special rapporteur would be appointed.

BFUG also discussed important issues of the enlargement of the Bologna process and new applications for access, as well as some less visible but no less important themes such as the Bologna process and the issue of languages. It also formed a few working groups to prepare particular issues for discussion. At its second meeting, BFUG appointed the general rapporteur who joined the work of both groups and prepared this report with their enormous and generous help. However, BFUG devoted most of its working time and expertise to a discussion about possible directions for the further development of the Bologna process and to considerations of issues important for the drafting of the Berlin Communiqué.

The Bologna Preparatory Group

At the first meeting in September 2001after the Prague Summit, BFUG established the Bologna Preparatory Group (BPG), chaired by Germany as the host country of the next ministerial meeting.

The BPG was inaugurated and seated at its first working meeting immediately after its election. In the period 2001-2003, it met altogether nine times (Brussels, 13 September 2001; Brussels, 12 December 2001; Brussels, 21 February 2002; Santander, 23 May 2002; Brussels, 19 September 2002; Berlin, 9 December 2002; Athens, 17 February 2003; Athens, 19 June 2003; Berlin, 17 September 2003).

BPG has been responsible for the concrete preparation of the Berlin Summit and assumed a key role in collecting and managing the necessary information. It was important that a small team was set up in Berlin early on, as well as an official website ( to support these tasks. The website covered valuable information of the previous Paris, Bologna, Salamanca and Prague meetings and existing translations of earlier “Bologna” documents, but it also enlarged the scope to include important news and events, interesting links, national legislation and reports, position papers on the Bologna process by other organizations, stakeholder associations, etc.

Nota: The website is non longer available.

The group was also given a mandate to get in contact with stakeholders (e.g. employers, trade-unions, etc.) or organizations with special expertise (e.g. accreditation, etc.) not directly represented in the “Bologna Structures”. Thus, BPG held occasional hearings on the Bologna process with representatives of those bodies, for example with the Steering Group of the European Network of Quality Assurance (ENQA), UNESCO European Centre for Higher Education (CEPES), Union of Industrial and Employers’ Confederations of Europe (UNICE) and with the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE).

Source: Bologna process between Prague and Berlin
Report to the Ministers of Education of the signatory countries Berlin, September 2003
General Rapporteur: Prof. Pavel Zgaga
Report commissioned by the Follow-up Group of the Bologna Process
Bologna Process between Prague and Berlin

Published: 19/09/2003 - Last modified: 13/05/2016
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