EU member states need to make more efficient use of €6 billon in EU funds to ease the transition from education to jobs for young people and foster entrepreneurship, urged MEPs in Wednesday's debate on the European Youth Initiative. Some advocated simplifying funding procedures, sharing best practices, and promoting apprenticeships, whilst others urged member states to do more to exploit the job-creating potential of new energy-saving and green technologies.
"The European Youth Initiative has a potential to break the negative cycle of unemployment among young people," said David Casa (MT) of the EPP group. He regretted that the funds had not been deployed earlier and urged EU member states to use them efficiently to create jobs. "The EU also suffers from a deficient entrepreneurial culture - young people should also be encouraged to create enterprises and eventually become employers," he added.
"Member states face obstacles in implementing the job schemes, as funding procedures are much too complicated", stressed Jutta Steinruck (DE) for the S&D group. She also asked for "a better overview of how the money is spent, with a strategy running at least until the year 2016" and emphasized the need to focus on decent jobs, especially in the "green" sector.
"There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the youth unemployment problem in the EU. The Commission's role should not be to provide a blueprint solution, but to share ideas and best practices," said Anthea McIntyre (UK), for the ECR group. She also called for more encouragement to SMEs to employ young people by lowering social contributions.
"We have to address the question of young workers' mobility. Are young people prepared to seek a job elsewhere in the EU? Employers should recruit outside their own member states too", said Martina Dlabajová (CZ) of the ALDE group, suggesting that firms "should offer young workers apprenticeships and lifelong vocational training".
"Here we go again, talking about same old problems and nothing changes," said Inês Cristina Zuber (PT) on behalf of the GUE/NGL. "Young people are destroyed by debts, they have no prospects but to take precarious jobs - we need to create proper jobs with proper labour rights", she insisted.
"One million young people in the EU are not in training, education or any kind of job. They are on the way to being excluded from society. We have to invest 3 billion euro to create jobs in energy transition and not forget the young, because that would mean forgetting the future", urged Karima Delli (FR) for the Greens/EFA group.
Jane Collins (UK) of the EFDD group, said that the EU "is failing and the jobs scheme will also fail". She also said that "we would need 21 billion euros, not just 6 billion”, adding that “Keeping the doors wide open to immigration makes it hard for young people to compete for jobs".
Commission and Council
Commissioner László Andor said that the scheme was well on track and bringing results. Out of 34 programmes, 26 had already been adopted in 2014; 6.4 billion euros should be committed this year and additional 4 billion would be available in 2015, he said, adding that the European Youth Initiative would have to be supported by improved macroeconomic conditions to deliver better results.
Italian Undersecretary of State Benedetto Della Vedova said that member states had shown a very high level of commitment in implementing the scheme, but ministers are aware that they should do more. He also argued that many economic problems affecting unemployment rates are cyclical.