EU leaders have agreed a scheme to fight debilitating youth unemployment in the 27-member bloc. Resources allocated to the program are to be used to organize job and apprenticeship offers.
On Thursday, EU labor ministers agreed on a program to curb spiraling youth unemployment in the bloc, with joblessness among those younger than 25 having surpassed the 23 percent mark.
At a meeting in Brussels, the labor ministers threw their weight behind the allocation of financial resources toward offering youth employment within four months of losing their jobs - or giving them the option of apprenticeships and qualification measures within the same period.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called on the 27 member countries to implement the scheme as quickly as possible. "With our youth guarantees, young people will have a real chance of a better future for themselves," Barroso said in a statement.
Most suffer, but not all
According to estimates, youth joblessness costs the bloc up to 150 billion euros ($200 billion) annually, or about 1.2 percent of the EU's combined gross domestic product.
The Commission had calculated that the costs of a special youth employment program were far lower than those incurred by inactivity and lost productivity, particularly when taking into account unemployment benefits.
Toward the end of 2012, more than 5.7 million young people were registered as unemployed in the EU. The situation remains particularly bad in Greece and Spain, where about every second adult younger than 25 is out of work; the number in Italy and Portugal is one in four.
Germany has a different problem, though, not being able to fill vacancies for apprenticeships or even jobs in selected industries. "That's why it's so important to bring some over here by making use of the bloc's legislation regulating the free movement of labor," German Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen said in Brussels.
hg/mkg (dpa, AFP, Reuters)