16th Jan 2019


Youth unemployment tops EU agenda this WEEK

  • Twenty six million people in the EU do not have a job (Photo: West Midlands Police)

EU leaders will gather in Brussels at the end of the week to discuss both youth employment as well as further steps towards banking union.

With 26 million people without a job in the EU, and unemployment among young people above 50 percent in Greece and Spain, the issue has become a political flashpoint.

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But the gap between rhetoric about Europe's "lost generation", and practical measures to get them into a job remains high.

So far the EU has agreed a youth guarantee scheme, under which member states pledge to get young people into a job or training within months of education ending. But it still has not been implemented. Six billion euros from the next longterm budget is to be frontloaded and put aside for the scheme, but the overall budget itself has still not been agreed. There has also been widespread criticism that €6bn is too little to make a real difference to the problem.

Meanwhile, a new research paper by Daniel Gros of the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies, suggests EU leaders have been too focused on joblessness in southern European countries. He notes that unemployed young people "contributes relatively much more to overall unemployment in countries like Sweden and the UK."

The summit is also meant to focus on progress towards banking union, a thee-pillared plan seen as essential for securing the longterm stable future of the single currency. But a recent Franco-German paper substantially watered down one of the pillars (on winding up banks) and made no reference to a eurozone-wide deposit guarantee scheme.

EU leaders are also due to discuss the national economic policy recommendations made by the European Commission - far reaching proposals designed to keep economies on track and balance budgets.

EU foreign ministers have a full agenda at their Monday meeting in Luxembourg when they are expected to discuss climate change diplomacy - with green issues considered to have slid down the global agenda since the onset of the financial crisis - and the situation in Syria.

At their last meeting, in May, they agreed to disagree on sending arms to the war-torn country. Each member state is free to decide whether it wants to put weapons in the hands of the anti-government forces. Ministers will also discuss the situation in Afghanistan with Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

The following day Eamon Gilmore, Irish foreign minister, is due to present a compromise deal on the 2014-2020 budget to his colleagues in the General Affairs Council. Gilmore said he had reached agreement with the parliament's chief negotiator on the €960bn budget last week.

But senior MEPs have rubbished the deal for not going far enough to meet the assembly's demands. Parliament leaders are due to decide the same day whether to accept the compromise.

A deal on the reforming the EU's farm subsidies policy is in the offing next week as agriculture ministers meet on Monday and a number of three-way talks (between member states, the commission and MEPs) are scheduled until Wednesday, when the deal is expected to be finalised.

Issues that still have to be agreed include the thorny issue of direct payments. Thirty percent of these go towards environment-friendly practicises, but this has to be clearly defined while talks are still ongoing on how to distribute the remaining 70 percent in a more equitable way.

Deal on EU budget in doubt

A tentative agreement on the EU budget has been thrown into doubt less than 12 hours after it was supposedly agreed. MEPs line up to suggest the Irish EU presidency has overplayed its hand.

Youth unemployment tops EU summit agenda, again

EU leaders gathering in Brussels on Thursday for a two-day summit will again turn to measures aimed at helping young people get a job, as unemployment figures soar in southern countries.

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