In this paper we map out the debate concerning a new mandate for European education policy based on recent socio-economic, political and educational developments, seen from the perspective of educational researchers located on the European (semi)periphery.

The first part of the paper looks at the category ‘preparation for the labour market’, while the second part concerns itself with the category ‘citizenship’. With regard to the former, it is argued that a new mandate for European education policy finds itself inextricably linked to the new education mandate of the new middle class, in a setting of globalisation and, closer to home, European construction. The latter attempts to conceptualise the emergence of new forms of citizenship at a time when the modern social contract suffers a process of transformation (or, what we term, reconfiguration). Based on the distinction between ‘attributed citizenship’ and ‘demanded citizenship’, we analyse changes taking place in state regulation as well as explore some of their implications for schooling.

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