EU budget: Less for cows, more for young people

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The European Union spends more on cows than young people, and that needs to change if Europe is to address its youth unemployment problem and create future opportunities for young people, says Peter Matjaši?.

Peter Matjaši? is president of the European Youth Forum.

"European leaders this week are deciding how to spend our money and what are the priorities of the next EU budget for 2014-2020.

This decision will have an effect on all of us, and especially on young people of Europe.

In these last few months, a lot of numbers have been tossed around: we started off with a €1-trillion budget proposed by the European Commission, went down to €973 billion in November and now member states are talking about giving even less. Or no agreement would be possible.

Did you know that at the moment the EU invests directly in education and youth issues only 0.8% of its budget? This is definitely not enough, especially now when the youth unemployment rate is 23.4% across the 27 member states!

What if the support of your education, the promotion of your participation to society via youth organisations and volunteering, investment to improve your employability and employment possibilities via youth guarantee schemes and quality internships, support youth entrepreneurship and creation of green jobs… What if all of this was taken away?

Only a concrete investment in young people will provide a way out of the crisis and build sustainable and inclusive Europe.

With the EU budget we can direct our common money to policies that have long-term effect on the challenges that young people in Europe face and that are not national problems. That is why we ask the European Council, your prime minister and head of state, to:

  • Increase the budget of the Education, Training and Youth Programme to reach at least €20 billion for the upcoming seven years (2014-2020).
  • Establish a strong and fresh financial investment in a European Youth Employment Package.
  • Dedicate at least 10% of the budget of each European Programme to support toung people and youth organisations (in regional development, social funds, agriculture, research);
  • Ensure policy coherence and mainstreaming youth in all the policies that the Union develops;
  • Use a youth impact assessment principle in order to monitor the budget as well as the policies from a youth perspective.

The EU spends today more on cows than young people (according to Eurostat, the EU spends €12.7 per cow and a mere €1.26 per young people in the current budget). If we don't act now the future of young people will be plagued by uncertainty while agriculture will continue to receive more support from the EU joint budget than the generation that is supposed to carry the heavy load of today's decisions tomorrow."

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