Finally an answer to the hottest question of European youth today: How to make sure Juncker’s Investment Plan works for youth

ETUC Youth Committee & European Youth Forum Conference at the European Economic and Social Committee: "Quality jobs creation for young people: what, how and when?" (European Sting, 25/06/2015)

ETUC Youth Committee & European Youth Forum Conference at the European Economic and Social Committee: “Quality jobs creation for young people: what, how and when?” (European Sting, 25/06/2015)

It was last month, on 25 June 2015, that the ETUC Youth Committee in collaboration with the European Youth Forum organised a rather stimulating conference at the European Economic and Social Committee called “Quality jobs creation for young people: what, how and when?”

The Sting was there, attended the conference with interest and at the end made a critical question to the panel that was unfortunately left unanswered, as the panelists found some distinct difficulty in contemplating the critical matter in question. Mrs Marianna Georgalis though, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at the European Youth Forum, embraced the timely significance of the question and was kind and brave enough to send us her stimulating answer in written, on behalf of the European Youth Forum:
The European Sting’s question made on 25 June 2015 at EESC by Panos Katsampanis, co-founder of the organisation:
“I think everybody agrees Juncker’s plan is good but not good enough. The same goes with the Youth Fuarantee. One can see EU’s effort to attract exterior additional funding on both programmes; Youth Guarantee: All4Youth Alliance programme, Juncker’s Plan: Invite of the biggest Chinese banks at the EESC a couple of weeks ago to discuss active and direct funding of regional projects and the EU to find a way to include this as external aid to Juncker’s investment plan framework. 
How will Juncker’s plan split in terms of investment in employment around the 28 members? e.g. Germany, Spain, Italy? Do we know if it will be diffused to the countries that suffer most from youth unemployment? Can we ensure this?
 
Last, but not least, there is one and only member state that has been excluded from Juncker’s plan. It’s the same country with the highest youth unemployment rates in Europe, Greece. What would you say to a young Greek today? Go to Germany?”
Marianna Georgalis, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at the European Youth Forum answers:
Mrs Marianna Georgalis is Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at the European Youth Forum

Mrs Marianna Georgalis is Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at the European Youth Forum

The European Youth Forum has welcomed Juncker’s Investment Plan due to the potential it has to turn Europe back into a place of high employment, quality work, high competitiveness and innovation. This potential rests, however, on certain preconditions. The Investment Plan must prioritise investment that creates sustainable, quality jobs. In order to address the dire social situation of Europe, which is particularly negatively impacting the younger generation, the social dimension of the Investment Plan must be taken into consideration.

The Plan should also avoid fuelling already booming areas and make sure it supports overall balanced growth across all of Europe. The differences in unemployment levels across the EU (ranging from 4.8% in Germany, to 25.8% in Greece) can have long-term effects and must be addressed. That is why we have called for funds to be allocated bearing in mind unemployment levels in Member States in order to yield the best and most equitable job gains across the EU. According to the International Labour Organisation, if part of the funds were to be distributed according to Member States’ level of unemployment, focusing on countries with higher unemployment, total employment gains would be nearly 2 million. Moreover, the countries in greatest need would observe the highest increases in employment and, therefore, narrow the labour market gap across the European Union.

This would in one part alleviate a situation seen at the moment where in crisis-hit countries such as Greece, a large proportion of the country’s young working population is migrating to other countries in the EU to find employment. The Youth Forum believes that whilst intra-EU labour mobility can be a key way through which young Europeans can find employment whilst increasing their intercultural and personal skills, such mobility must be voluntary. With nearly half a million Greeks having left the country since the onset of the crisis, it is evident that forced mobility is very much a reality in Europe right now. This is an issue also because the portability of social rights is not currently guaranteed:  a young Greek or Spaniard moving to another Member State may not necessarily have access to the same social security rights as a young national of that country. This must be urgently addressed on the European level with properly coordinated social security systems in order to ensure a genuine and inclusive freedom of movement for young Europeans.

The Investment Plan, therefore, if used correctly, has the potential to restore equilibrium across European labour markets and to ensure young people are not being forced to leave their countries to find decent work. However, the feasibility of the Investment Plan lies, partly, in the hands of the Member States. The initial €21 billion reserve might not be enough to achieve the target of €315 billion of investment. And even if it is enough, there are varying doubts over whether this fund is enough to overturn the economy towards a more sustainable growth path. The European Youth Forum is urging Member States to commit more resources to the EFSI in order for it to reach and, if possible, go beyond its target level of investment, and actually make an impact on Europe’s economy and society.

The responsibility also lies with EU institutions and political leaders who must now demonstrate real leadership by making sure that the Investment Plan is implemented in a transparent way and its impact monitored objectively, especially taking into consideration the social impact and sustainable quality job creation. The bottom line is that if this Plan leads to furthering already existing inequalities, we would consider it a failure for the young generation.

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