Friday

15th Feb 2019

Unemployment figures show EU's north-south divide

  • Construction worker: Germany recently invited skilled labourers from the south to move north (Photo: Valentina Pop)

Eurozone unemployment reached a record high of 12 percent in February with national statistics confirming the discrepancy between the more stable northern economies and the struggling southern ones.

Figures released the Eurostat agency on Tuesday (2 April) showed there are 19 million unemployed people in the 17-nation euro area and 26.3 million in EU as a whole. The EU-wide joblessness rate clocked in at 10.9 percent.

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.

... or join as a group

The figures highlight the differences between core and periphery euro states.

Austria, Germany and Luxembourg had jobless rates of 4.8 percent, 5.4 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively.

By contrast, Greece and Spain's unemployment rate is 26 percent while Portugal is on 17.5 percent.

Unemployment among the under-25s is particularly high.

More than one in two young people are without work in Greece (58.4%) and Spain (55.7%). In Portugal, it is 38.2 percent and in Italy 37.8 percent.

Germany, the EU's strongest economy and the country shaping the budget-cutting response to the crisis, has a youth unemployment rate of 7.7 percent.

The European Commission reacted by calling the figures a "tragedy for Europe."

It recently set up a youth guarantee scheme under which member states should ensure young people receive an offer of work, continued education, or a traineeship within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed.

Meanwhile, fund lines for growth boosting schemes broadly consist of re-allocated money or investment money that is supposed to be "leveraged" to create bigger sums with "added value."

The high unemployment rates, particularly among the youth, have led politicians to increasingly speak of a "lost generation" with little prospect of finding work.

“We are in a double dip recession. Unemployment is up, up and up. When is growth going to come?," Bernadette Segol, the head of the European Trade Union Confederation asked recently.

She suggested the persistent focus on austerity measures is leading to "doubts" about the benefits of belonging to the European Union.

The eurozone's growth prospects also compare badly with other regions. While the 17-nation currency area economy is expected to contract by a further 0.3 percent this year, the US economy is expected to grow 1.7 percent in 2013. China's GDP is growing at about 8 percent a year.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Opinion

Eastern Europe Matters

The foreign ministers of Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic reflect on 10 years of the Eastern Partnership with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us