The last few years have seen monumental battles over education both in Britain and in continental Europe. While the need for the state to take responsibility for raising educational standards has never been fully accepted in Britain, on the continent of Europe the state is seen to have a legitimate and necessary role in providing better education for the bulk of its citizens. This difference will take on greater importance after '1992' when competition will depend on a skilled, that is educated, workforce. In the Europe of the future there will be little room for unskilled, low-paid workers. This issue of Contemporary European Affairs discusses present and future aspects of the education systems of the UK, France, Germany and Italy.