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Economic and Social Policies, EU Financing / Budgetary Affairs, PUBLICATIONS

How the Budget is spent: Youth Employment Initiative

Written by Ana Claudia Alfieri,

trainers with young apprentices

© industrieblick / Fotolia

In the wake of the economic and financial crisis, young people became one of the age groups most at risk of social exclusion. The unemployment rate among young people aged 15-24 years was 24.0 % in the EU in February 2013, with peaks of 60.0 % in Greece, 56.2 % in Spain, 49.8 % in Croatia, 44.1 % in Italy and 40.7 % in Portugal.

The Union addressed this situation by means of the Youth Guarantee (YG), a political commitment to ensure that all young people under the age of 25 years receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.

The Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), with an initial financial envelope of €3.2 billion for 2014-2015, is the main EU funding programme of this political commitment. Its objective is the fight against youth unemployment in the worst-affected EU regions by supporting young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) in regions with a youth unemployment rate above 25 %.

The YEI has been in place for three years, during which the average rate of youth unemployment in the EU fell to 16.9 % and the NEET rate from 13.2 % in 2012 to 11.5 % in 2016. It has certainly contributed to this improvement, both supporting young people individually, but also helping structural reforms, in more than 120 regions in 20 Member States. However, as the situation is still worrying in many regions of the EU, the programme has been extended up to 2020 and its financial envelope has been raised, with an additional €1.2 billion for 2017-2020.


Read the complete briefing on ‘Youth Employment Initiative‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.


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