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Keywords:

  • Cross-curricular key competences;
  • curriculum policy;
  • compulsory education;
  • implementation strategy;
  • teacher professional development;
  • European Union

The evolution in Europe towards more competence-based curricula in the last ten years or so is the result of several exogenous factors and a determined European policy. The Reference Framework of Key Competences for Lifelong Learning, a Recommendation approved by the European Parliament and the Council in 2006, and the work carried out within the Open Method of Coordination as well as by European research bodies have had a significant impact on Member States' curriculum reforms. This article shows that some terminology issues, both conceptual and practical, may explain, together with other causes, the diverse formulations of key competences and the way in which they are being integrated into the compulsory education curricula by the Member States or at intra-national levels. The focus of the article is on cross-curricular competences because these are the key competences which require the most significant innovations in teaching and learning practices, on assessment tools and procedures, and school organisation. The analysis illustrates the main differences and convergences in policy formulation and implementation strategies among the EU Member States. It also identifies key obstacles that must be overcome for an effective implementation before suggesting some policy recommendations.