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EU leaders reaffirm resolve to boost youth employment

At a follow-up conference in Paris, top EU policy makers have renewed their pledge to bring down youth unemployment considerably in the bloc. Right now, one in four people under 25 is without work.

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EU leaders pledge to boost youth employment

Following up on an inaugural conference on youth employment in July, EU leaders on Tuesday met in Paris to further coordinate measures to efficiently curb record-high joblessness among the bloc's young people.

There was agreement that speedy action is urgently required, as endemic unemployment has been feeding into a rise in xenophobic and euroskeptical parties, with recent polls indicating they could make unprecedented gains in European elections next year.

With economic recovery still volatile in the region, Spain and France log a 56-percent youth jobless rate, while in France every fourth youth is out of work. Germany is far better off, recording a rate of only 7.7 percent at present.

Money alone won't help

EU leaders said there must be no falling behind the policy priority of setting aside at least 6 billion euros ($8 billion) for alleviating youth unemployment in 2014 and 2015, with the European Investment Bank expected to contribute a similar amount to help ease the liquidity problems faced by some companies in supporting job creation initiatives.

The conference participants once again threw their weight behind an earlier decision to offer every young European a job or training within four months of leaving school. They said member states would have until the end of the year to specify exactly how they aimed to achieve that objective.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso added resources from the European Social Fund were already being used to finance training and employment for young people.

"Companies also have an important role to play in easing the current situation and support political leaders in their drive," Barroso said. "A lot of work has to be done locally and in the regions."

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy added most eurozone member countries would see general employment levels rise, given the region's better growth prospects.

However, Rompuy conceded that growth on its own would not be enough to fundamentally change the labor market situation for young people across the bloc.

hg/jr (dpa, AFP)

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