Commission President José-Manuel Barroso commented "Too many . They need answers from us. That is why, for the past two years, the European Commission pushed the urgent need to tackle youth unemployment to the top of Europe´s political agenda. 6 billion euros have been earmarked for the Youth Employment Initiative to help the young unemployed. Now, with the Youth Guarantee, young people have a real chance of a better future. I call on Member States to translate this agreement into concrete action as swiftly as possible."
Commissioner Andor said "Given the record numbers of young jobless, I am very pleased that the Council has approved the Youth Guarantee proposal so quickly. It is crucially important that Member States urgently put in place measures to make the Youth Guarantee a reality and so to urgently get young people into work. EU funds can help but they also need to invest their own money to avoid higher costs in the future."
The Recommendation, proposed by the Commission on 5th December 2012 as part of the Youth Employment Package, gives Member States a clear benchmark and precise guidelines for establishing their own Youth Guarantee scheme on the basis of six axes:
- establishing strong partnerships with all stakeholders
- ensuring early intervention and activation to avoid young people becoming or remaining NEETs (not in employment, education or training)
- taking supportive measures that will enable labour market integration
- making full use of EU funding to that end
- assessing and continuously improving the Youth Guarantee and
- implementing the scheme rapidly.
The Commission is ready and willing to make available substantial financial contributions from the European Social Fund and other EU structural funds. At the same time, the Commission confirmed in the 2013 Annual Growth Survey adopted in late 2012 that Youth Guarantee schemes are key measures that should be prioritised within growth-friendly fiscal consolidation. For the Commission, investment in Youth Guarantee schemes is crucial expenditure if the EU wants to preserve its future growth potential.
Establishing schemes similar to the Youth Guarantee have already proven effective in a number of countries, in particular Austria and Finland. In Finland, a review of a youth guarantee-type scheme that operated there showed an acceleration in the drawing up of personalised plans for young people as well as a reduction in unemployment since the scheme´s introduction. Austria also has youth guarantee type measures and at the same time one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in Europe. one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in Europe.
Implementing the Youth Guarantee requires Member States to establish strong partnerships with schools and universities, training providers, employment services, social partners, career guidance providers, youth support services and youth organisations to ensure early intervention and action. Member States can make full use of the European Social Fund and other structural funds, and will be required to assess and continuously improve their Youth Guarantee schemes. Furthermore, on 7-8 February 2013 the European Council decided to create a Youth Employment Initiative setting aside €6 billion for the period 2014-2020 to be allocated to regions where youth unemployment exceeds 25%.. These funds will be available to implement the Youth Guarantee.
The numbers of unemployed young people on the EU labour market are unacceptable – 5.7 million in the EU in December i.e. 23.4% of the workforce under 25. In in Greece and Spain the figure is over 55%. The figure for young people aged 15-24 not in employment, education or training is 7.5 million. Young people are the most vulnerable in the European labour market, and increasingly run the risk of being marginalised. This has immediate consequences for the people concerned and for our economies, but also medium and long-term implications for society as a whole, with an increased risk of future unemployment, poverty and health problems.
The economic cost of not integrating young people into the labour market is enormous – over €150 billion per year, or 1.2% of EU GDP according to a study by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound). Some countries, such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia and Poland, are paying 2% or more of their GDP to cover the costs of NEETs. Avoiding these economic costs now and in the future outweighs by far the fiscal costs of the Youth Guarantee.