MEPs call on EU governments to step up efforts on youth unemployment

Young people protesting about unemployment

MEPs have criticised the efforts of EU member states for their failure to respond effectively to the ongoing problem of youth unemployment across the bloc.

Speaking in a debate on the issue in Strasbourg, parliamentarians were also particularly critical of the European commission’s youth guarantee scheme.

According to commission statistics, more than 5.5 million young people are currently unemployed in the EU, representing an unemployment rate of 23.4 per cent.

“How is the latest youth guarantee scheme different from all the programmes that went before it?” – Inês Zuber

Portuguese MEP Inês Zuber saying, “How long have we been here talking about this and hearing empty promises? All the while a whole generation of young people are left without any possibility of planning their lives properly.

“In Greece and Spain more than half of all young people are unemployed. In Portugal there has been an attempt to fiddle the statistics but any improvements in the figures are due to emigration,” she claimed.

“How is the latest youth guarantee scheme different from all the programmes that went before it? Jobs created are still very precarious jobs and they often replace jobs with rights,” she said, warning, “Precarious labour undermines the future of these young workers.”

GUE/NGL deputy Rina Ronja Kari told the debate, “We must be honest – the youth guarantee has been a fiasco.

“There is a serious risk that it will be misused to reduce working conditions and create cheap labour.”

“We have to acknowledge that old methods are wrong and dare to start something new” – Rina Ronja

In addition, she argued, “It doesn’t grapple with the real problem of austerity, which is creating unemployment. We demand that austerity policies stop.

“We also have to acknowledge that labour markets differ greatly between countries. We need public investments in health and education sectors.

“We have to acknowledge that old methods are wrong and dare to start something new,” she stressed.

S&D member Maria João Rodrigues also spoke, saying, “In spite of many efforts, the unemployment rate remains very high in Europe, particularly for youth unemployment.

“Something is deeply wrong” – Maria João Rodrigues

“Something is deeply wrong. We have too many economic and social divergences between member states,” said the Portuguese MEP, adding, “These divergences are undermining our European ambition, our European project and our European cohesion.

“There is no future in Europe if there is no future for young people in Europe.  We must tackle this problem more ambitiously,” she urged.

Her S&D colleague Jutta Steinruck also spoke up, saying, “For many years now the Socialists and Democrats have been calling for stronger, more targeted action to make a real difference, including investment to boost growth, create jobs and make the youth guarantee work for young people.

“We need to be at least as ambitious as we were in rescuing the banks or fighting for freedom of economic activity” – Jutta Steinruck

She complained, “Too little has been done so far. The €6bn for the youth guarantee is not enough. The member states must be given support to put it into practice. We need to make sure that further money is available after 2016.”

The German MEP continued, “We also want to see standards for implementing the youth guarantee and compulsory targets for fighting youth unemployment within the framework of the European semester.

“We need to be at least as ambitious as we were in rescuing the banks or fighting for freedom of economic activity,” she argued.

“We must make sure that important tools like the youth guarantee are adequately funded and more importantly that available funds are used wisely” – David Casa

David Casa, a member of parliament’s EPP group, agreed that more action is required, saying, “With the latest figures showing that youth unemployment in the EU has reached 22.5 per cent, with some countries hitting 50 per cent, there is also a need for more direct EU funding.

“We must make sure that important tools like the youth guarantee are adequately funded and more importantly that available funds are used wisely and we must also step up our efforts to cut red-tape,” he concluded.

 

Written for theparliamentmagazine.eu

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