The EU Commission to fight unemployment tsunami with a…scoreboard

 

Press conference by László Andor, Member of the EC, on the report "Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2012". (EC Audiovisual Services).

Press conference by László Andor, Member of the EC, on the report “Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2012”. (EC Audiovisual Services).

Yesterday László Andor, European Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion delivered a speech to an ETUC (European Trade Union Confederation) conference on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the organisation. The speech was entitled, “Europeans want and deserve a monetary union with a human face”.

This is a decent description of what our societies badly need. Understandably, Andor speaking to workers couldn’t avoid choosing a really burning issue. The continuation though was not as realistic as the title. Let’s hear him.

Two lost generations

A bit further down in his speech the Commissioner put the emphasis on youth unemployment. However he didn’t elaborate much on this. Of course there is no need to repeat every time the appalling statistics for youths under 25 without job, but how can we overlook the reality that more than half of them are outside the productive system? What about Greece, Spain and many other EU member states, where two generations of men and women in their 20s and 30s are at the verge of definite exclusion? Not a word about all that from the Commissioner.

Instead, Andor remembered what Angela Merkel said about youths without a job, while she was speaking some days ago in the World Economic Forum of Davos. Obviously nobody in her audience there would shed a tear over youth unemployment. Words, yes but real care, no. Not to forget that the yearly WEF gathering, in this completely silent Swiss village, is the yearly meeting point for the money sharks and the political elite. In short the people who have brought us in the present miserable situation. But what the German Chancellor said?

Quite blatantly she had concluded that, “giving a helping hand to unemployed young people is perhaps the most important task we have in Europe”. This was an icy and at the limits of…philanthropy observation for a burning social and economic problem, with devastating repercussions on entire countries and generations of people.

Of course Andor didn’t make this reference to Merkel to pay tribute to such a cold statement. Obviously it was no to the liking of a European Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. So he had to politely criticise the Chancellor’s unduly comment and offer a more Commission like ‘solution’.

Unrealistic promise

To this effect Andor referring to Merkel’s statement said, “It is, indeed, not enough to be sorry about unemployed young people”. Then he offered the Brussels’ answer to this Gordian knot by adding that, “Forceful action is needed, by introducing youth guarantees as proposed by the European Commission last December in the Youth Employment Package. This would mean that all young people under the age of 25 should receive a good quality offer of employment, training or apprenticeship within four months after becoming unemployed or leaving education”.

Unfortunately for him the ETUC conference was taking place in Madrid, but for his good luck the millions of the Spanish unemployed youths were not around to ‘disagree’. If they were, they would have told him that this is a false promise. They know that it is impossible to organise a scheme to effectively solve this truly existential problem of millions and millions of unemployed youths in Spain, Greece and all over the 27 EU countries. He is probably forgetting, despite being a Hungarian, that Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and the three Baltic Republics are also members of the EU and they count tens of millions of unemployed youths.

A scoreboard against unemployment

Does he really believes or is he just paying lip service by saying that the European Social Fund has the financial means to support programmes offering solutions to all the unemployed youths of the EU, “within four months after becoming unemployed or leaving education”. As everybody knows the trillions of euro are only for the banks, not for the European Social Fund. Actually the next EU leaders’ Summit in February may even cut down the existing resources of the ESF.

Of course one cannot expect an EU Commissioner to identify and describe publicly all the shortcomings of our economic system. Everyday people however fighting for a subsistence living know those shortcomings pretty well. Why then the good Commissioner didn’t find the courage to denounce the irresponsible policies in favour of the banks and not for the people? Especially while speaking in an audience of workers.

As a matter of fact Andor didn’t only omit to make down to earth observations about where our societies stand now, but he took refuge to the usual Commission’s bureaucratic constructions, which defy reality.

Even before workers, he dared offer a solution to the European Monetary Union’s social problems like that: “In order to build a social dimension (for the EMU), we can further develop our current monitoring tools (those of the Employment and Social Protection Committees) into a scoreboard of employment and social indicators through a systematic and exhaustive analysis of employment and social developments”.

As if, what is missing from our labour markets all over the European Union is a scoreboard! For God’s sake, has the Commission lost touch with reality? Somebody should tell them that if they cannot offer an effective solution for a huge problem like unemployment, they should undertake something less exorbitant. In this way they will at least save some costs.

All in all unemployment is here to stay and it is questionable if there is any prospect in the foreseeable future for the EU to return to something like full employment.

 

 

 

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