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19th Aug 2022

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Germany and Greece: huge gulf in youth unemployment

  • Germany is trying to help youngsters from other EU countries to find a job (Photo: West Midlands Police)

The German government on Wednesday (22 May) announced a series of conferences and bilateral programmes to help youngsters from Spain, Portugal and Greece find a job, as regional statistics show 17 times more unemployed youngsters in northern Greece compared to Bavaria.

According to the EU's statistical office Eurostat, youth unemployment in the northern-Greek region of Dytiki Makedonia stood at 72.5 percent in 2012, followed by the Spanish regions of Ceuta (70.6%) and Canarias (62.6%).

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At the opposite end of the scale were the German regions of upper Bavaria (4.2%), Tuebingen (4.5%) and Freiburg (4.8%).

The average youth unemployment rate among all 27 EU countries stood at 22.9 percent in 2012 and over a fifth of these 15-24 year olds were out of a job for over a year, Eurostat said.

"Europe's actions in fighting youth unemployment will decide about the legitimacy of the European project," German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in a press conference in Berlin.

He added that while progress in cutting budget deficits and structural reforms has been made over the past years, it was an "urgent necessity" to get youngsters into jobs.

A conference in Paris next week will gather labour and finance ministers as well as business representatives - in a bid to boost youth employment in southern countries.

Chancellor Angela Merkel will then host a similar conference in Berlin on 3 July inviting the heads of employment agencies from all EU countries. French President Francois Hollande and EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso are also expected to take part. A final event is then scheduled in Spain later in July.

Schaeuble admitted that it would be a "very desirable side-effect" were all these initiatives to soften Germany's image as an austerity-driven nation in Europe.

German labour minister Ursula von der Leyen explained at the same press conference that Germany's low unemployment rates are to a large extent due to a "dual education" system with a very strong link to businesses and their needs.

Earlier this week, von der Leyen signed an agreement with her Spanish counterpart making it easier for young Spaniards to come to Germany for training, for instance by paying for their German language classes.

"We still have 30,000 training vacancies that by far exceed the number of young Germans available to fill them," the minister explained.

Meanwhile, a BBC survey of more than 26,000 people around the globe placed Germany as the most positively viewed nation in the world out of 16 countries plus the EU.

Last year, the most popular country was Japan, which now fell to fourth place after Germany, Canada and UK.

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