Saturday

29th Apr 2017

Gloomy job figures dash hopes for European upturn

As fresh statistics in both Europe and the US dash hopes for an early economic recovery, Brussels is proposing micro loans to small firms in a bid to help them keep local jobs.

According to data published by Eurostat, the EU's statistical office, on Thursday (2 July), the jobless rate in the eurozone was 9.5 percent in May, up from 9.3 percent in April. It is the highest rate since May 1999 and it involves around 15 million men and women.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Fresh EU job figures show the recession has struck hard at the bloc's labour market (Photo: European Commission)

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate across the bloc was 8.9 percent in May, a four year high. The number of jobless persons increased by 385,000 compared to the previous month and by 5.1 million since May 2008.

Altogether, it is expected that some 3.5 million jobs will be lost this year across the EU.

Spain continues to feature as the member state with the highest unemployment rate, while the Netherlands recorded the lowest rates (3.2%) and, along with Germany, the lowest surge of the number of unemployed compared to last year.

While all the EU countries recorded some increases, the three Baltic states saw the biggest jump in jobless figures, with Estonia's unemployment rate surging from around 4 to 15.6 percent, Latvia's from 6 percent to 16.3 percent and Lithuania's from 5 percent to 14.3 percent.

A similar set of gloomy statistics came from the US on Wednesday, as June figures showed that the unemployment rate in the world's biggest economy rose from 9.4 percent to 9.5 percent, its highest for nearly 26 years, the Financial Times reported.

US president Barack Obama admitted the job figures are "sobering" but insisted that his stimulus programme is working. "As I've said from the moment that I walked into the door of this White House, it took years for us to get into this mess, and it will take us more than a few months to turn it around," the US leader said, according to the Washington Examiner.

Economists argue that the latest signals from the labour market on both sides of the Atlantic cast a shadow over optimistic expectations for the world's worst economic recession since the 1930s to be nearing its final phase.

Giving out loans before leaving the office

Meanwhile, the outgoing European Commission, the EU's executive, has proposed a fresh initiative aiming to help preserve employment, suggesting micro loans for small firms as well as for Europeans who have lost their jobs and want to start their own business.

Pointing out that the financial crisis has dried up credit to entrepreneurs, the commission suggested on Thursday (2 July) an initial sum of €100 million to be provided to people willing to set up their own firm.

"In the current recession, we want to offer a new start to the unemployed through easier access to credit to set up or develop new businesses. And we want to help small businesses to develop further despite the crisis," said the employment commissioner Vladimir Spidla. "This will help create new jobs," he added.

If leveraged to €500 million in co-operation with international financial institutions such as the European Investment Bank as expected by Brussels, the initiative could result in 45,000 loans over a period of up to eight years.

Under the proposed scheme, loans under €25,000 would be offered to micro-enterprises, employing fewer than 10 people - which is the prevailing type of business in Europe, covering over 90 percent of all firms, as well as to unemployed or inactive persons planning to go into self-employment.

The EU executive is hoping the programme will start running in 2010.

Eurogroup makes 'progress' on Greek deal

Eurozone ministers endorsed an agreement in principle between the Greek government and its creditors over a new package of reforms. But talks on fiscal targets and debt could still block a final agreement.

New anti-trust complaint looms over Microsoft

At least three security software companies “met several times” with the European Commission to complain about Microsoft’s alleged abuse of its market position. A formal case could follow.

Commission stops German-British stock merger

The decision to block the merger of the London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse was expected, as negotiations between the parties broke down a few weeks ago.

SMEs lack support in EU financial plan

The European Commission's plan for a capital markets union is said to be aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises, but many could end up being left out in the cold.

Eurozone chief in 'drinks and women' row

[Updated] The Netherlands' Jeroen Dijsselbloem faces calls for resignation after saying that crisis-hit countries in southern Europe spent "money on drinks and women" before being helped by others.

New anti-trust complaint looms over Microsoft

At least three security software companies “met several times” with the European Commission to complain about Microsoft’s alleged abuse of its market position. A formal case could follow.

Investigation

MEPs oppose EU agency to prevent Dieselgate II

The European Parliament said on Tuesday that there should be more EU oversight on how cars are approved, but stopped short of calling for an independent EU agency.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  2. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  3. One year later: EU right to open Internet still virtual
  4. Rethinking Europe's relationship with Turkey
  5. Mob storms Macedonian parliament
  6. MEPs retain secrecy on office spending
  7. May accuses EU-27 of 'lining up against Britain'
  8. Resurrected Renzi to regain leadership of Italy's ruling party