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At present, more than 5.5 million people in Europe under the age of 25 are unemployed. Youth unemployment rates in Europe stood at 23.2% in December 2013. In some countries, more than half of the young people who want to work are unemployed. Young Europeans recurrently write to the Parliament and its President and request concrete measures to improve their situation on the job market.
Tackling youth unemployment in Europe is a top priority for the European Parliament. The Parliament is fully aware that youth unemployment has a profound impact on individuals as well as on society and the economy. Unless current trends are reversed quickly, today’s levels of youth unemployment risk damaging the longer-term employment prospects for young people, with serious implications for future growth and social cohesion.
The European Parliament has pushed for and adopted several measures to fight youth unemployment in Europe. For example, Parliament has insisted for years that Member States adopt “youth guarantees” that would put every young person in a job or professional training within four months after ending their education. By 15 January 2014, 17 Member States have submitted Youth Guarantee Implementation Plans.
As “youth guarantee” schemes alone will not suffice to reduce youth unemployment, the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) adopted two resolutions in September 2013 calling for further measures to make it easier for young people to move to jobs or training.
“The fight against youth unemployment must be the EU’s number one priority. In addition to the 6 billion euro set aside from the EU to tackle youth unemployment, Member States should invest resources to ensure the implementation of the Youth Guarantee scheme that they have already signed up to”, President Schulz said on 2 October 2013 in a statement on the social dimension of Economic and Monetary Union.
Implementing the Youth Guarantee will require sustained investment at national level. The EU will top-up national spending on these schemes through the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) and the European Social Fund (ESF).
Youth Employment Initiative (YEI)
Member States which suffer from high youth unemployment will benefit from support drawn from a 3 billion euro special allocation to fight youth unemployment under the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI). This money will be directed to support young people not in employment, education or training in regions experiencing youth unemployment rates above 25%. This special support will have to be complemented by at least the same amount drawn from the Member States’ European Social Fund (ESF) allocations and in particular help Member States to implement their Youth Guarantee Implementation Plans.
European Social Fund (ESF)
One third of the EU budget for 2014-2020 (some 325 billion euro) will be invested in Member States, to boost cohesion and regional development, with a strong focus on employment.
The allocation of cohesion policy resources in the 2014-2020 financial period will be decided in bilateral negotiations between the Commission and the Member States. The European Social Fund (ESF) will have to represent at least 23.1% within cohesion policy funding in the 2014-2020.
The Parliament has published additional information and links about the ESF and EU’s cohesion policy in 2014-2020 in a press release of 20 November 2013 and in a background note on the cohesion policy.
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