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Youth unemployment under debate

Berlin hosts European youth jobs summit

Redacción

Some 20 EU leaders are expected to take part in a youth employment conference hosted today by Chancellor Angela Merkel, less than a week after an EU summit on the same topic.

EU leaders have agreed to put aside 6 billion euros ($7.8 billion) starting next year, on top of other funding, to fight youth unemployment.

Unemployment in the euro zone is at a record high of over 12 percent and there are fears of a "lost generation" in Spain and Greece, where more than half the under-25s are out of work. Many blame Merkel.

EU leaders have agreed to put aside 6 billion euros ($7.8 billion) starting next year, on top of other funding, to fight youth unemployment. How the money will be allocated will be one of the talking points.

The conference is primarily aimed at comparing notes on what measures countries can take to bring down an unemployment rate among under-25s that stood at 23.1 percent across the EU in May.

Changing the education system to a more practical one, including traineeships in companies is one avenue the Germans are particularly keen on. They also stress the importance of career guidance in places like Greece, where youngsters "don´t even get proper advice."

Labour ministers and heads of national employment offices are also participating in the event, which will end with a joint press conference between Chancellor Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and the heads of the EU´s three main institutions.

For the first three years of the euro crisis, Merkel insisted that struggling members like Greece and Spain make deep spending cuts to reduce their deficits in exchange for aid.

"We will only reverse the trend in countries with over 50 percent youth unemployment like Spain or Greece, or 40 percent in Italy, when we change overall economic policy in the European Union," she added.

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