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The purpose of the Bologna process (or Bologna accords) is to create the European higher education area by making academic degree standards and quality assurance standards more comparable and compatible throughout Europe. It is named after the place it was proposed, the University of Bologna with the signing, in 1999, of the Bologna declaration by ministers of education from 29 European countries in the Italian city of Bologna. This was opened up to other countries, and further governmental meetings have been held in Prague (2001), Berlin (2003) and Bergen (2005); the next meeting will take place in London in Spring 2007.
Before the signing of the Bologna declaration, the Magna Carta Universitatum had been issued at a meeting of university rectors celebrating the 900th anniversary of the University of Bologna - and thus of European universities - in 1988. One year before the Bologna declaration, education ministers Claude Allegre (France), Jürgen Rüttgers (Germany), Luigi Berlinguer (Italy) and the Baroness Blackstone (UK) signed the Sorbonne declaration in Paris 1998, committing themselves to "harmonising the architecture of the European Higher Education system". French officials in particular therefore often refer to the La Sorbonne/Bologna process.
The Council of Europe and UNESCO have jointly issued the Lisbon recognition convention on recognition of academic qualifications as part of the process, which has been ratified by the majority of the countries party to the Bologna process.
The complete, up-to-date and editable article about Bologna Process can be found at Wikipedia: Bologna Process