Twenty-four EU leaders gathered in Paris on Tuesday (12 November) to confirm their commitment to fight youth unemployment, promising to mobilise €45 billion over the next two years to provide youth training and support enterprise creation. EurActiv France reports.

European leaders intensify fight against youth unemployment

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The second high level conference on youth employment, hosted by French President François Hollande, comes a few months after German Chancellor Angela Merkel held the first meeting, in July 2013. A third will take place in Rome next spring to draw the first conclusions of measures to tackle the problem.

24 out of 28 European leaders attended, along with employment ministers and different stakeholders, such as representatives of public employment services and training institutions and youth workers.

Youth unemployment varies greatly within the Union, from 57.3% in Greece and 56.5% in Spain to 7.7% in Germany. In France it is 26.% and 28% in Ireland.

Youth guarantee

On 1 January, the EU will implement the Youth Guarantee, a scheme to get all young people in either work or education, meaning that all countries which have asked the European Commission for it will be able to get the necessary finances to help them put the scheme in place.

France has already presented the Commission with its implementation plan and should receive a €600 million payment.

“Without growth, there will be no jobs for young people. Politics doesn't create jobs, enterprises create jobs,” Merkel stressed, adding that it was a “national responsibility to fight youth unemployment”.

Hollande underscored the three priorities agreed with his European partners: develop training in the jobs of the future, professional inclusion of the most vulnerable groups and support for creating enterprises.

Financial means

70% of the budget from the European Social Fund (ESF) will be dedicated to young people, making €7 billion available each year. The European Investment Bank (EIB) will allocate another €6 billion per year. For the first two years, a total of €45 billion will be invested into training and enterprise creation.

The Youth Employment Initiative is partly based on the French experience, which allows the most vulnerable young people who are neither in employment, education or training to have access to a minimum income of €434 per month, while simultaneously offering them training or an internship.

The experience has been conducted in 10 French departments. Eight French regions are eligible for the programme (a list of all eligible EU regions can be found here).

In France, 10,000 young people benefit from the new programme, a figure that the government hopes to double by 2016.

Despite the EU pledge to rush out its youth support funding, European leaders did not pledge additional money. Nor did they propose any new Europe-wide initiative to kick-start hiring youngsters who, according to EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso, risked becoming a "lost generation".