Young and unemployed the perfect victims of ‘vultures’

From left to right: Laszlo Andor, Member of the European Commission; Richard Bruton, Irish Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; Herman Van Ropmuy, President of the Council of the EU, meeting for the EPSCO Council (Employment and Social Affairs). The Council reached political agreement on the establishment of youth guarantee schemes by member states. 28/02/2013, (Council of the European Union photographic library).

From left to right: Laszlo Andor, Member of the European Commission; Richard Bruton, Irish Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; Herman Van Ropmuy, President of the Council of the EU, meeting for the EPSCO Council (Employment and Social Affairs). The Council reached political agreement on the establishment of youth guarantee schemes by member states. 28/02/2013, (Council of the European Union photographic library).

Slowly, but surely, unemployment in Eurozone keeps rising, posing growing pressures on economic policy planners all over the European Union. The problem has taken devastating dimensions in Eurozone countries applying the EU-ECB-IMF financial rehabilitation programmes (Greece, Portugal and Ireland), or self-imposed austerity measures as in Spain and Italy. More particularly in Greece, Spain, Portugal and to a lesser degree in Italy, unemployment has already undermined social cohesion and now threatens the political stability.

According to Eurostat, the EU statistical service, more people were without employment in January 2013. In detail, “The euro area (EA17) seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was 11.9% in January 2013, up from 11.8% in December 2012. The EU27 unemployment rate was 10.8%, up from 10.7% in the previous month. In both zones, rates have risen markedly compared with January 2012, when they were 10.8% and 10.1% respectively”.

Unemployed 100%

As for the deep discrepancy between ‘north’ and south’, unemployment differences gradually take unbelievable dimensions. According to the same source, “Among the Member States, the lowest unemployment rates were recorded in Austria (4.9%), Germany and Luxembourg (both 5.3%) and the Netherlands (6.0%), and the highest in Greece (27.0% in November 2012), Spain (26.2%) and Portugal (17.6%)”. No need for someone to be social scientist, to understand why Greece, Spain, Portugal and of course Italy are in such a bad social and political shape.

If percentages cannot tell the entire story, absolute numbers paint a wasteland image. Not to forget that if for the many an 11.8% unemployment percentage is a disappointment, for the unemployed it is a 100% catastrophe. The numbers published are quoted here, “Eurostat estimates that 26.217 million men and women in the EU27, of whom 18.998 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in January 2013”.

The labour market landscape becomes completely frightening when Eurostat starts counting the unemployed young people, bellow the age of 25. “In January 2013, the youth unemployment rate was 23.6% in the EU27 and 24.2% in the euro area, compared with 22.4% and 21 .9% respectively in January 2012. In January 2013 the lowest rates were observed in Germany (7.9%), Austria (9.9%) and the Netherlands (10.3%), and the highest in Greece (59.4% in November 2012), Spain (55.5%) and Italy (38.7%)”.  No wonder why Greece, Spain and Italy pose the gravest problems, risking to derail the whole Eurozone.

A Brussels’ scheme

It seems that in view of this Eurostat publication, the European Union bureaucracy rushed to remind us of its new programme to confront the unemployment of the young. According to a Council of the European Union announcement, “On 28 February 2013, the Council reached a political agreement on the establishment of youth guarantee schemes which aim to ensure that unemployed young people are quickly offered employment or training. All young people under the age of 25 who lose their job or do not find work after leaving school should receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within 4 months. Member states should implement the schemes as soon as possible, preferably as from 2014”.

It is a scheme which at first reading looks alright, especially if you are not under 25 and unemployed. If you belong, however, in this unfortunate category and already have experienced those schemes, you either laugh or cry. Only recently, a British Court ruled that the widely advertised for effectiveness multi billion pound British government scheme for young unemployed, was illegal. By god, how can such a scheme be illegal? Not difficult, give money to bureaucrats to help the young unemployed and see what happens. Let’s see what happened.

Working unpaid!

In reality, this British programme was not designed to help the unemployed, but rather to cut their benefits. Under this British programme, young people receiving unemployment benefits had to accept any job WITHOUT PAYMENT, if they wanted to keep the allowance. In this affair there was, of course, need for ‘flexible’ private firms, who wanted to have in their workforce UNPAID SLAVES, not regular workers. The ‘circus’ was called ‘on the job training’.

Of course, this was a gift from the bureaucrats to those firms and God knows if there were not some kickbacks, while picking the firms to be favoured with unpaid labour force. Finally, a young woman took her case to the Courts and she won this decision, defining the programme as illegal, because it was forcing young people to unpaid labour, under the false pretext of ‘on the job training’.

This new European Union programme looks exactly like that. Here is why. Given that, realistically speaking, it’s impossible to give jobs for all those millions of unemployed youngsters, the next thing will be to offer them ‘training’ on the job or otherwise. Then it is exactly the idea of training, some member states like Britain might have, that makes the whole affair smell fishy.

If it is about real training no problem, but what if it is a compulsory scheme for young unemployed, to work unpaid if they want to keep or receive allowances? Can the Brussels’ bureaucrats make sure that things, in some member states, will not turn to that? Or even worse, do they care if things will develop like that? This British ‘scheme’ was co-financed by Brussels. Is it possible that the EU policy makers knew nothing about it? If such things happen to Britain, what about other countries with not so good administrative practices? How can the youngsters be protected from abuses? Unemployment and poverty makes them perfect victims to everything. Even their concentration in one place draws the attention of the ‘vultures’. That’s why the Brussels bureaucrats must think twice when they plan for the young. Incidentally, last time in Brussels the only birds I saw were black crows…

 

 

 

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