Saturday

21st Jul 2018

Eurozone unemployment hits new record

  • The spending cuts have resulted in an increasing number of protests across Europe (Photo: EUobserver)

There was more grim news for the 17-nation eurozone on Wednesday (2 May) as new figures showed that the unemployment rate reached 10.9 percent in March with a further 169,000 people losing their jobs compared to February.

The figure - translating into 17.4 million looking for work in the eurozone and the highest rate since the euro's introduction in 1999 - is up from 10.8 percent in February of this year and 9.9 percent in March 2011.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

The highest jobless rate was recorded in Spain - currently battling for a sharp reduction in its budget deficit - at 24.1 percent, followed by bailout counties Greece (21.7 percent in January) and Portugal (15.3%). Meanwhile, the third largest euro economy Italy, also in the throes of budget cuts, recorded a 12-year unemployment high of 9.8 percent.

The figures are likely to fuel the current debate in the EU about whether policies to date have exacerbated the crisis by focussing too much on debt reduction through austerity measures.

The European Commission called the figures "very worrying" and said that growth was at the "heart" of its agenda.

However, it is fighting a PR battle on that front. Having initially focussed only on the need for debt reduction to appease nervous markets, it was - along with the member state leaders - a late converter to promoting growth.

It has moderated its message to one of "consolidation" backed up by "targetted" investment. It also says the most important steps to be taken are reform labour market policies and making it easier for citizens from different member states to get to where the jobs are.

Last month it came out with an ideas paper on jobs suggesting the creation of an appropriate minimum wage and urging member states to exploit job creation potential in the ICT, health and healthcare sectors.

The first occasion for the commission to become concrete will be at the end of May when it publishes a series of policy recommendations for each member state.

"The country-specific recommendations ... will be addressing the improvement of the unemployment situation in Europe as well as the fiscal and more broad economic situations," said the commission's social affairs spokesperson.

They will feed into the traditional summer summit of EU leaders in June which is to focus on growth and employment issues.

The ideological shift towards growth promotion comes even as 25 member states have committed themselves to the fiscal compact treaty - a German-driven pact that enshrines balanced budgets into national law.

This in itself has become a major issue in the French presidential election where the socialist challenger Francois Hollande has pledged to renegotiate the text to make it more growth friendly if he gets into office following Sunday's election.

The French election is being keenly followed in Germany, where some of the countries newspapers have started describing Chancellor Angela Merkel as being isolated in Europe for her attachment to austerity.

Hollande's pledge is causing interest elsewhere too. In Ireland, due to have a referendum on the fiscal discipline treaty on 31 May, some voices have suggested the poll be postponed if Hollande wins to see what an adjusted treaty would look like.

Eurozone unemployment hits new record

Eurozone unemployment reached 10.8 percent in February, the highest level since the currency was introduced in 1999. Youngsters remain the most affected, with every second Spaniard under 25 unable to find a job.

EU unemployment hits record high

Twenty three million people in the EU are struggling to find jobs, as the economic crisis and austerity cuts unfold into severe social consequences.

EU 'tax lady' hits Google with record fine

Margrethe Vestager has fined the US tech giant with €4.34bn for abusing its market dominance in mobile operating systems - but assured US president Donald Trump that it is not because she does not like America.

EU and Japan wave light in Trump's 'darkness'

EU leaders and Japanese prime minister signed a series of agreements, including the EU's biggest trade deal ever, designed as an answer to the disruption of the world order by the US president.

News in Brief

  1. Libyan PM rejects EU migrant camps idea
  2. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  3. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  4. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question
  5. May to tell EU to drop Irish border 'backstop' idea
  6. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  7. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  8. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us