France has become the first EU country to receive funding from the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) to tackle unemployment among young people. The European Commission will make funding available so that France can receive €620 million from the YEI and the European Social Fund (ESF). 

The money will go towards helping young people who not in employment, education or training (the so-called NEETs) to find a job in those regions where youth unemployment rates over 25%.

It is the first programme adopted in the EU under the €6 billion funding initiative, covering 20 member states. Currently, around 5.6 million young Europeans are jobless, 650,000 in France alone.

László Andor, the commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, said in a statement that with the adopted programme, the YEI will benefit approximately one million young French people currently out of work, education or training.

The EU's reform ambition is to ensure that every young person up to 25 years of age is offered quality employment, education or training within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving school.

Thirteen French regions are eligible for YEI funding. France has chosen to allocate 10% of its YEI resources to sub-regions of its Ile de France, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and Midi-Pyrénées regions.

France said that the YEI funding will help  young people with poor chances in the labour market, for example by counselling and training the less-skilled, and enabling the mobility of apprentices at regional, national and in some cases, the cross-border level.

The funding will also help to prevent high school dropouts and better identify young NEETS and give a second chance to those who left school without any diploma or qualification to set a foot on the labour market through work experience or traineeships.