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Merkel proposes increasing youth unemployment funds at EU summit

A summit on youth unemployment in the European Union has come to an end in Berlin. At the invitation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU leaders gathered to discuss ways to combat joblessness among the young.

Merkel was able to draw the leaders of about 20 member states to her own capital to discuss EU-wide unemployment.

Merkel said everyone was responsible for easing the strain caused by youth unemployment, suggesting that 8 billion euros ($10.4 billion) could be put toward this in 2014. "The next time we meet," the chancellor said, "there needs to be progress." 

Critics had said that a previous proposed budget of 6 billion euros was far too small to make a real difference. EU leaders last week had agreed to put that amount aside, starting next year, on top of other funding to fight youth unemployment. The aid package is to be spent fully within two years, in part on a program to guarantee under-25s a job or further education training within four months of losing their job.

Across Europe in May more than 5.6 million people younger than 25 were without a job - an unemployment rate of 23.5 percent. In the eurozone, the rate is slightly higher, at 24.4 percent.

mkg/rc (AFP, dpa, epd)