Youth Guarantee: A good start but not the whole picture

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

Youth unemployment is still seen as a national problem and a responsibility for the member states. This is also the problem of the EU's proposed youth guarantee scheme which will be discussed by the social affairs ministers on Thursday (28 February), argue Ska Keller and Terry Reintke.

Ska Keller is a Green MEP and Terry Reintke is spokesperson of the Federation of Young European Greens. Together with others, they have launched the web-based project

"To be young in the European Union is currently not a pleasure. Instead of opportunities and open doors awaiting you, the risk of ending up unemployed, dependent on your parents and without prospects is high.

In some regions in Europe, you are highly likely to not having a good education, a job and a brilliant future. This did not come out of the blue.

The potential for a crisis was built into the structuring of the economic zone and the currency, without many people realising it as a problem.

Now, austerity is seen as the only true solution to the crisis – an austerity that cuts on education and training, reduces employment possibilities, kicks people out of social systems and consolidates old structures.

The well-educated are already taking leave from the most affected regions going to where the jobs are. But in order to do that, you need to have an education that finds you a job plus and you need to speak the language.

This is difficult if Erasmus semesters are facing cuts and language courses cost money that many don not have.

The receiving countries could do their share to make young people feel at home and get a grip in their new life. But not much is happening in this regard.

Youth unemployment is still seen as a national problem and as responsibility of the native member states of young people only. This is also the problem of the youth guarantee which will be discussed by the social affairs ministers this Thursday.

The youth guarantee gives all member states the tasks to provide their youngsters with employment or training possibilities, so that they are no longer unemployed than four months.

It is up to the member states, however, to implement these tasks and it will not be considered an infringement in case they fail.

The youth guarantee does not guarantee a good job or training either as this is also up to the member states. Therefore, we should ensure that proper evaluating and monitoring systems verify whether and in what way all of the member states are following their tasks.

We consider youth unemployment a European problem. Even in countries where the unemployment rate overall is fairly low, young people still have worse chances than others to find a job.

On top of that young people are much more likely to be employed under precarious conditions and for very low wages. This should be faced with common initiatives. The youth guarantee is a good start because it gives a clear and measurable task to member states.

To make it truly European it needs to be reality for all young people in Europe, no matter where they look for work. Member states need to cooperate closely and invite young people to access their labour markets.

'Inviting' does not simply mean to allow people in, but to give them support and help.

Still the youth guarantee does not solve the whole problem. It does not give young people a say in the policy making that is shaping their present and future.

It does not ensure a good education and equal opportunities. It does not make sure that free movement is guaranteed for them. It is all those aspects that are needed in order to make the European Union one that cares about the younger generations." 

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