Monday

20th Jan 2020

Post-Arab Spring countries face 'social time bomb,' EU says

  • Young people in post-Arab spring countries are facing bleak employment prospects (Photo: European Parliament)

High youth unemployment in many post-Arab Spring countries is a “social time bomb” the EU has said.

On his whirlwind tour of the region, EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy stopped in Egypt and Tunisia on Tuesday (15 January).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

At a round-table discussion in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, Rompuy said 50 million jobs would need to be created in the next couple of years for all the young people in the region about to enter a severely depressed labour market.

"Such a dramatic situation is a social time-bomb," said Rompuy.

Few job opportunities and societies grappling with reconstruction after decades of autocracy are instead giving rise to renewed social tensions.

“If women and men are not given the opportunity to work and to take part in the political process, disillusionment and frustration will spread,” said the EU President.

Van Rompuy on the same day met with Tunisia’s Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and singed out with worry the growing political and social tensions in the run up to the June presidential and parliamentary elections.

To help alleviate some of the voting angst, Rompuy offered to send an EU election monitoring mission.

Tunisia is still piecing itself together after two decades of hard rule under the now deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The country has initiated a number of economic and social reforms under the direction of the governing Islamic Ennahda Movement.

Some of those reforms are backed with EU funds to the tune of €68 million, signed off in Brussels last November. The money is geared to help the most impoverished regions and find recent graduates steady work.

The European Investment Bank also committed €270 million in December to support employment and other job-creating investments. The bank says some of the money will create at least 10,000 additional jobs.

But high unemployment remains elusive.

The Geneva-based UN offshoot, International Labour Organisation (ILO), notes unemployment has increased in Tunisia by four percentage points since 2010 and now hovers around 17 percent.

“Young people, including graduates, are hard hit, and the crisis in advanced economies is making it more difficult for them to find decent jobs abroad,” said Raymon Torres, the ILO’s director International Institute for Labour Studies, in an opinion piece penned on Monday.

China spy suspect worked for EU for 30 years

The former EU ambassador suspected by German prosecutors of spying for China was Gerhard Sabathil, according to EU officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

Nuclear arms race threat after EU rebukes Iran

EU powers have triggered a process that could bring the world back to 2006, when sanctions and threats were all that stood in the way of a Middle East nuclear arms race.

Analysis

No Libya truce in Moscow: time for EU step in

While the European Union was too divided to help resolve Libya's civil war, Russia filled the gap. It managed to get the fighting parties to Moscow, but without result.

News in Brief

  1. Malta: Another minister resigns over Caruana Galizia murder
  2. Belgian region threatens to block EU-Mercosur trade deal
  3. EU to cut pre-accession aid to Turkey by 75 percent
  4. Libya peace talks: 'new spirit' to find solution
  5. EU financial firms flock to UK
  6. 'No objection in principle' on Huawei cooperation, EU says
  7. French aircraft carrier goes to Middle East amid tensions
  8. EU suggests temporary ban on facial recognition

Magazine

EU diplomacy 2.0

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee ought to be like second-tier EU diplomats on the Western Balkans and Russia, according to its German chairman, but foreign policy splits could bedevil its work.

Opinion

'A game of roulette' - life as a journalist now in Turkey

Turkey has more journalists behind bars than any other country in the world. The authorities seem to equate journalism with terrorism: everyone has the right to express themselves, but, in their eyes, legitimate journalism is a threat to security.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us