The EU summit on how to create jobs and growth kicks off in Milan today (8 October). EURACTIV Italy reports.
While there are many topics on the agenda, the summit is supposed to be more low-key compared to real EU summits. But with this ‘open’ attitude instead of a more rigid agenda, other more topical issues could take over.
According to Italian sources, Europe’s unemployed workers should expect nothing in terms of decisions. As with the two previous meetings in Berlin and Paris, the summit is not expected to be ‘controversial’ in terms of confrontation between the 28 member states, but more a meeting signaling good intentions and sharing best practices.
According to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency, 24.8 million adults, equal to 10.2% of the EU’s labour force, were unemployed in the 28 member union during the month of July.
The number means that the rate of unemployment has remained unchanged compared to the preceding month.
A total of 18.4 million people were out of work in the eurozone, with Greece and Spain posting the highest unemployment rates at 27.2% and 24.5% respectively. The youth unemployment also continues to be very high in those to countries, at around 60%.
If the meeting in Milan becomes controversial, it will be because the discussions have moved away from talks over how to get Europe back to work, to budget flexibility for some member states, which is not officially on the agenda.
France has launched an open challenge to the German insistence on respecting the EU’s fiscal rules, announcing that its budget deficit will be above the 3% limit until 2017.
According to EURACTIV Italy, the Italian presidency, which sees today’s event as the first of many important events in Europe this autumn, will do anything to make sure that the conference does not appear to be an empty container. The conference is also a window for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to contribute on a topic which he says will have “serious political consequences”.
Renzi has backing in the Italian Parliament to reform the Italian labour market, but the content of this reform is so far entirely indeterminate, and France and Germany don’t seem to care, anyway. As long as Renzi pulls Italy out of the doldrums.
The European Youth Forum said it regrets 'the lack of clarity and confusion' regarding the heads of states Summit on Jobs and Growth taking place in Milan.
"We are deeply disappointed not to see youth employment as the main focus of this summit, as was originally planned. We do welcome the attention on investment and job creation as employment policies and targeted measures such as the Youth Guarantee will not solve the unemployment crisis alone. Targeted measures need to be complemented by new quality jobs created through growth."
Between 2007 and 2013, youth unemployment reached record highs across Europe, dramatically increasing from 15.7% to 23.4%, according to Eurostat. EU heads of state and government agreed in February 2013 to launch a €6 billion Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) to get more young people into work.
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