Written by Ivana Katsarova
Currently over 5 million young people (aged 15‐24) in the EU‐28 are unemployed. This represents more than one in five young Europeans; and more than one in two in Greece and Spain, where youth unemployment rates are particularly high.
Although the most promising way of providing opportunities for young people is through restoring growth and employment, specific measures focused on youth are essential. In this context, different EU initiatives have been put in place to improve the learning paths, mobility, and employability of young people.
The Europe 2020 Strategy (launched in 2010) has a strong focus on young adults, with a headline target of reducing early school‐leaving from 15% to 10%, and increasing the share of higher education graduates from 31% to at least 40% by 2020. The Youth Employment Package (2012) put forward the creation of a Youth Guarantee to ensure that all young people under the age of 25 receive a good‐quality offer of employment, education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving education. To help Member States step up national policies in combating youth unemployment, the Council established a Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) in 2013. The €6 billion available under the YEI will be used to reinforce and accelerate measures outlined in the Youth Employment Package and in particular, in the Youth Guarantee. All operational programmes funded through the YEI are expected to be adopted by the end of 2014. However, the European Parliament and stakeholders have repeatedly criticised national governments for their slow implementation, insufficient financial investment and lack of political ambition.