EU leaders agree measures to fight youth unemployment
The EU leaders at the European Council meeting on 27-28 June in Brussels endorsed a comprehensive plan to combat youth unemployment. 23.5% of Europeans under the age of 25 (approximately 7.5 million) across the EU are currently out of work. The plan includes speeding up the implementation of the Youth Employment Initiative and the Youth Guarantee scheme, as well as increasing youth mobility and the involvement of social partners.
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Young people are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as the adult population. The cost of failing to integrate some 14 million young people aged between 15 and 25 into the labour market is estimated to be equivalent to around 1.21% of the EU's GDP.
"Unemployment levels are alarmingly high, concealing many different realities and causes that often run deep. And we are under no illusions: the problem won't be solved overnight. But that is no reason for adopting a "mission impossible" mindset. A common resolve and immediate actions can make a difference. That's why, tonight, we took a number of decisions that can and will create jobs", said President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy after the meeting.
Youth Guarantee schemes
Under the Youth Guarantee, the member states committed to ensure that within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education all young people up to the age of 25 receive a high-quality offer of a job, an apprenticeship or a traineeship.
The EU will help the member states to fund the Youth Guarantee schemes through the use of EU structural funds, notably the Youth Employment Initiative.
Youth Employment Initiative
The EU leaders agreed to front-load the EUR 6 billion that had been earmarked for the Initiative so that these funds are available in 2014-2016, i.e. during the first two years of the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), instead of being spread over its entire seven-year duration.
The leaders undertook to make the Youth Employment Initiative fully operational by January 2014.
The EU regions where youth unemployment rates are higher than 25% will be the first to receive disbursements under the Initiative. For this to happen, the beneficiary member states have to adopt plans to tackle youth unemployment, including through the implementation of the Youth Guarantee, before the end of the year. The other countries are encouraged to adopt such plans in 2014.
In addition, it has been agreed that the unspent MFF funds will be used primarily to support employment, especially for young people, but also in growth areas such as innovation and research.
Helping young people find employment across borders
Leaders agreed to strengthen existing initiatives, such as "Your first EURES Job" and "Erasmus +", which also fosters cross-border vocational training. The member states would like it to be operational from January 2014. EURES currently provides access to over 1.4 million job vacancies and almost 31 000 registered employers across the EU.
In addition, member states are encouraged to use part of their allocations from the European Social Fund to support cross-border mobility schemes.
The member states agreed to launch the European Alliance for Apprenticeships in July, and the Quality Framework for Traineeships should be put in place in early 2014. The programmes are designed to link up the private sector, social partners and businesses to create high-quality apprenticeships.
Another measure to boost youth employment is the active involvement of social partners. The European Council welcomes the "Framework of Actions on Youth Employment" agreed by social partners in June 2013.
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