Civil society organisations disenchanted with “Youth Guarantee”

European Economic and Social Committee. Labour Market Observatory Meeting in session. (EESC photographic library, 12 June 2013)

European Economic and Social Committee. Labour Market Observatory Meeting. (EESC photographic library, 12 June 2013)

Since 2008, when the EU financial crisis first broke out, 1000 young people join every day the ranks of the unemployed, according to the European Economic and Social Committee. The EESC issued recently a note strongly criticising the Commission’s proposal entitled “Youth Guarantee project”. This proposal was adopted by the European Council of the 27+1 EU leaders last week. It provides €6 billion for a project aimed at making sure that within four months all youths under the age of 25 after leaving school get a job, an apprenticeship or a traineeship. EESC observed that “One third of them are still without prospects a year later. These 6 million young Europeans deserve more from Europe than just 0.7% of its budget and, at the very least, that it should invest massively in their future and therefore in ours”.

The European Sting also criticised this new scheme and termed it as ‘futile’. On 29 June the Sting writer George Pepper commented that “Unemployment torments also youths under 29 and in their case the absence of productive employment is even more unbearable. They are men and women without a job probably for years, not being able to start a family. On top of that in the south of Eurozone overall unemployment has reached unseen before levels. Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal run the danger of losing one generation of workers. But the leaders had nothing to say about that.”

More backing for more people

However the European Economic and Social Committee took one more step forward and proposed something new. Expressing the civil society organisations EESC asked the Commission “to come up with a genuine plan to help young people in these times of crisis, with practical projects…To this end, it is essential that the EU offer more than the 8 billion euro emergency plan when its bank emergency plan was 10 times higher… to make it efficient, the Commission must go further…the scheme should be extended to unemployed young people of up to 30 years of age… These measures should be extended beyond to regions with a youth unemployment rate of up to 25%, in order to have a preventive effect”.

In other statements EESC characterised the unemployment of the young ‘a scandal’. Undoubtedly this is a scandal. The reason is that this current economic crisis is not the only cause of this devastating phenomenon. High unemployment of young people did not appear during the last five years. It was there long before the financial crisis of 2008-2009. Greece, Spain, Italy and other EU countries suffered of high youth unemployment long before. So in order to effectively address this problem more money for training is not enough. Deep changes are needed including interventions in the labour market institutionalisation and functioning.

Growth and jobs

Consequently it seems that the much discussed and desired overall economic growth and the creation of adequate employment opportunities for the young must be addressed at the same time and by the same package of policies. Some billions of EU taxpayers’ money will not be enough to do the job. Those subsidies are functioning also like unemployment benefits and may, to some limited extend, even support unemployment. If the society becomes accustomed to such types of benefits, expectations of more like it in the future may prevent some youngsters from really looking for a job.

There is no doubt that generously reducing the unemployment rate is an even more demanding and complicated task for policy makers than introducing measures to attain a weak growth pact. Everybody agrees that the resumption of economic activities in the EU towards the end of this year or the beginning of 2014 will not touch the unemployed even less the young among them.

 

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