1. Educational mobility within the EU
From the European Union (EU) point of view, mobility is expected to enhance cooperation among member states and to promote a European dimension in education (Doyle, 2011; Enders and Teichler, 2006). Furthermore, mobility in education constitutes an advancement in educational services by offering stronger cohesion in Europe, preparing the workforce for the European job market (European Commission, 2009b; Nistor, 2011) and finally by enhancing intercultural education (Doyle, 2011).
Doyle (2011) defines mobility as “the movement of people between nations to facilitate cross cultural learning, cooperation and development” (p. 15). Therefore, mobility within Europe is described, not just as a simple movement but rather as a way to think as a European citizen (Novoa, 2013). In this new era of cooperation, the role of the teacher is changing to a comprehensive level in which he/she is called upon to work together with his/her colleagues and with people outside the school (Barthélemy, 1997). In addition, the enhancement of teacher collaboration is often extensive and diverse, and embodies, among others, principles such as organisational responsiveness, learning opportunities, increased efficiency and improved effectiveness (Hargreaves, 2001). Finally, collaboration allows the mobility actions to improve the quality of education and to enrich the content of teaching (Peck, 1997). In order to increase this added value of the newly acquired knowledge gained by mobility, knowledge sharing should be sought (Patrick and Dotsika, 2007).
2. European citizenship
Another aspect of educational mobility is that it instills a sense of European citizenship which has become a core component in education systems of the EU (McCann and Finn, 2006). Mobility is a key aspect to its development (Osler, 2012) as it can be promoted “at the grass-roots level” where “more and more ordinary people have to be involved” (Singh, 2009, p. 29).
According to Preuss (1995, p. 280), European citizenship “helps to abolish the hierarchy between the different loyalties and to allow the individuals a multiplicity of associative relations without binding them to a specific nationality. European citizenship is more an amplified bundle of options within a physically broadened and functionally more differentiated space than a definitive legal status”.
Moreover, European citizenship education as presented by the European Commission allows people to better appreciate the individual as a person and as a contributor to the society (McCann & Finn, 2006). Along these lines, Singh (2009, p. 29) states that there “should be mutual recognition of members’ identity” rather than an attempt to surpass national identities.
3. European programmes based on mobility
The EU implements programmes in the field of education and training to promote the international mobility of students and teachers and the cooperation among schools (Lasonen, 2009; Moutsios, 2007).
This article focuses on the LLP which was the continuation of the Socrates I & II programmes. One of their sub-programmes, the Comenius programme, was the first to introduce mobility actions for primary and secondary education (European Commission, 2001). This study deals with one aspect of the Comenius programme, the school partnerships, with the goal of developing joint learning projects for pupils and their teachers (European Commission, 2013). The LLP has since been replaced by a new programme, Erasmus+, whose main purpose is to create a single integrated programme that brings together most of EU’s programmes  Erasmus+ covers Comenius, Grundtvig, Leonardo, Erasmus,.... It is intended to be in place until 2020 (McGowan and Phinnemore, 2015).
The general objective of the LLP was to contribute, through lifelong learning, to the development of the European Community as an advanced knowledge-based society. In addition to the general objective, the Comenius programme aimed at developing knowledge and understanding regarding the diversity of European cultures and languages and its value (European Commission, 2006). Moreover, these programmes aim at promoting the international exchange of academic staff on a regular basis (Enders and Teichler, 2006). Finally, a Comenius project also aims at involving the local community in its projects (Onestini, 1996). To do so, a Comenius project focuses on the involvement of local authorities, parents, individuals and non-governmental organisations (Theodosopoulou, 2010).
4. The implementation of Comenius school partnerships in Greece
Compared to the first European programmes (Erasmus, Lingua, Socrates, etc), the participation of Greeks in European mobility has gradually increased. Specifically, from 2007 to 2013, 50,000 students, teachers and assistant staff participated in LLP. It is estimated that this number will increase to 75,000 from 2014 to 2020  Commissioner Vassiliou launches Erasmus+ in Greece,....
As far as the Comenius programme is concerned, there appears to be a significant increase in mobility. From 2008 to 2012 the Greek national agency  The Greek national agency is named Greek State Scholarship’s... approved the participation of 6,120 students and 8,069 teachers in mobility actions regarding Comenius school partnerships. Correspondingly, the number of schools, which participated in school partnerships increased by 62 % from 2008 to 2012.
However, despite these promising numbers, we still have to take into consideration that the overall percentage of teachers who participated in mobility actions within school partnerships in 2012 was only 1.25 %.
This research shows the Comenius programme’s ability to enhance the European dimension in the schools and the European identity of the teachers involved in the programme. The same results, that is, schools cooperated with schools in other EU countries and teachers created sustainable links with their peers in other countries, are also found in the official evaluation of the Socrates and LLP published by the European Commission (2001, 2009a, 2011). Moreover, Comenius programmes helped the participants better understand the cultural differences across Europe, which was one of the objectives of these programmes (European Parliament and Council, 2006). As a result, the teachers revised stereotypes and prejudices, something which can be found in other studies as well (Gordon, 2001; Libotton, van Braak and Garofalo, 2002; Sirok and Kosmrlj, 2012).
Overall, the findings that refer to the collaboration among colleagues across Europe are consistent with the findings in other studies (Diamantopoulou, 2006; Gordon, 2001; Gutierrez Colon-Plana, 2012). In these studies, the participants express their satisfaction regarding their cooperation with other foreign teachers and emphasize the development of a friendly relationship. In our research all participants affirmed their intention to collaborate with foreign colleagues in the future.
In addition, Comenius school partnerships have had a major impact on establishing school networks with other European schools. This programme was the first opportunity for local schools to participate in a European project and cooperate with foreign schools. Soon after their first engagement in a Comenius project, most of the interviewees’ schools participated again in another Comenius project, a conclusion also found in a 2012 CIEP  Centre international d’études pédagogiques (CIEP). (2012) study. Furthermore, Comenius projects helped the participating schools to establish links with other European countries, to develop new cooperation efforts with foreign schools and, finally, as mentioned in Gordon (2001), to think in a ‘European way’.
Furthermore, the interviews indicated that cooperation among the school staff was achieved. This is also mentioned in a study conducted by Léargas, the Irish Exchange Bureau (Doyle, 2011). In our study, the participants affirmed that educational cooperation among colleagues was indeed encouraged and they felt better prepared for future collaboration. As mentioned in Johnson’s (2003) study, teacher collaboration would be a welcomed improvement in schools.
Diamantopoulou (2006), who examines the benefits of Comenius school partnerships in the Greek education system, notes that schools formed links with the local community. Furthermore, the 2012 CIEP (2012) study, which analyses the impact of Comenius school partnerships on participating institutions, concludes that Comenius projects helped open up schools to their local community by fostering closer ties with cultural institutions, companies and local authorities. The analysis of these findings shows an agreement between these two studies, as far as the opportunities provided to do so are concerned. However, regarding the actual implementation of this cooperation, it became clear that the schools came in contact with the local authorities, organisations and companies mostly when they needed their help in preparing for the visit to their school. Unfortunately those contacts did not continue once the programme ended.
On the other hand, attention should be given to certain aspects mentioned by the participants. Most participants stated their concern regarding their colleagues’ indifference towards the programme. In an attempt to explain this behavior, participants mentioned that teachers had a significant workload which prevented them from focusing on the project. This result coincides with the findings from the qualitative study conducted by Gutiérrez Colón-Plana (2012) on Comenius projects in ten Catalan educational institutions. Furthermore, participants believed that teachers who are near retirement age aren’t interested in similar non-mandatory programmes.
A major concern of participants, which has not been analysed in other studies, was whether their participation could influence their colleagues who were not involved in the programme. Boateng, Dzandu, and Agyemang (2015) confirm that teachers who share knowledge with other colleagues are likely to perform better. Moreover, interviewees mentioned a lack of school-wide strategy to share their acquired knowledge with their coworkers. The role of the school administration regarding the sharing of knowledge is studied by Hamid (2008) who states that school administrators must encourage teachers to share their knowledge.
The key findings of the data analysis show the European added value of the Comenius programme. In conclusion, it appears that there are changes in teachers’ perception of European identity as a result of their participation in European mobility projects.
Furthermore, these projects impact the interpersonal and intercultural relations of the participants. Specifically, the teachers who participated in Comenius programmes better understood the foreign culture and learned how to work in interdisciplinary teams with foreign and local colleagues.
In addition, teachers who participated in Comenius partnerships were eager to share their experiences with their colleagues. However, they did not manage to effectively share their experiences. It therefore seems that schools, which take part in Comenius programme should take action to help the process of knowledge sharing.
Finally, it appears that relationships with the local community and collaboration with other European schools, which were established during the European programmes, ended once the programmes were over. It is believed that such projects should offer incentives to schools to form permanent relationships with the local community and other European schools.
What should be mentioned though is that there were certain limitations regarding the research study. Specifically, the study was limited by its small sample size, as it is based on a small-scale qualitative research. Finally, the sample size could have been expanded by including teachers from primary schools.