Lifelong learning is often attributed to adult participation in education.  In other words, it is the education received beyond or after compulsory schooling. For most adults, lifelong learning can be an effective means to obtain new skills or to update their knowledge in relation to their line of work or as part of on the job training.  However, this is a rather narrow view of the benefits and opportunities tied to lifelong learning. According to the European Commission, proper investment in lifelong learning is also a contributing factor to active citizenship and a more cohesive society. By becoming more aware of certain issues, acquiring new skill-sets and knowledge, and staying updated with the latest societal but also technological developments, citizens can be better equipped to play an active role in a democratic society.  

The EU not only realises this but greatly supports efforts for better and effective lifelong learning, most especially after experiencing economic instability and destabilising shifts in global labour markets.  Moreover, more Europeans are facing the risk of social exclusion and simultaneously, active citizenship is dwindling. Therefore, even though the EU cannot put forward new laws to boost lifelong learning in Europe, it has still opted for some sort of framework to ensure that Member States are prioritising adult learning in their respective education policies.  Over the past few years, the EU has witnessed a considerable increase in the level of participation in adult learning. In fact, participation increased from 10.6% in 2015 to 12.4% in 2017. By coordinating and supporting Member States where necessary, the EU intends to reach a target of 15% or above by 2020. By setting such targets and providing an overall strategic direction, the EU is ensuring that firstly, citizens have the opportunity to learn at whatever stage they are in their life and ultimately, that through education they are contributing to a sustainable knowledge-based society and economy.