EU high officials said on Friday that EU needs to identify solutions to reduce low achievement and avoid skills mismatch which is contributing to low levels of unemployment.
Recent studies done by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) underlined the need to improve education and training in the EU.
The latest PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) survey, measuring the abilities of 15 year olds, found that, among EU countries, 22.1 percent are low achievers in maths, 17.8 percent in reading and 16.6 percent in science.
Low achievement resulted in a skills deficit or mismatch, as well as growing education inequalities, which have not been improved due to stagnating or falling levels of public spending on education.
Although these figures represented a slight improvement on previous years, the EU average masks significant differences between Member States. For example, the share of low achievers in maths is over 40 percent in Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus, compared with only 10.5 percent in Estonia, 12.3 percent in Finland and 14.4 percent in Poland.
EU Education Ministers will meet in Brussels on 24 February and discuss the challenge of improving the skills needed to enhance employability and increase levels of literacy and numeracy in the European Union.
Speaking ahead of the Education Council, Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth commented: "For people of all ages, the need to acquire relevant skills is more crucial than ever if Europe is to compete as a knowledge economy. "
Education and training are at the heart of the EU's strategy for growth and jobs, as well as the so-called "European Semester", the Commission's analysis of economic and structural reforms in Member States.
As part of this process, the Commission provides country-specific recommendations in areas including education, research and skills. The Council discussions are expected to provide an important insight into Member States' plans for improving education and training performance.