MEPs debated the latest plan to make €1 billion in Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) funding available in 2015 with Commissioner Marianne Thyssen on Tuesday morning. A majority of speakers backed the idea of speeding up the delivery of funding for projects to fight youth unemployment, while also developing long-term solutions and introducing structural reforms.
Members urged that the EU should act fast to reduce the number of young people who are unemployed, which has reached 7.5 million in the EU as a whole. In the worst-hit regions, especially in southern Europe, up to 50% of 15-24 year olds are unemployed. Europe could lose a whole generation of young people because they are unable to start independent lives and develop their creative potential, they said. Some speakers expressed concern about the capacity of EU member states to use the funds efficiently and help create long-term quality jobs, rather than spending them on “quick fix” temporary solutions.
EU member states are implementing “Youth Guarantee”, measures designed to reduce youth unemployment by accelerating the transition from school to work. YEI funding tops up European Social Fund (ESF) money in member states with regions where youth unemployment exceeds 25%. The new front-loading plan could deliver a thirtyfold increase - from present 1% to up to 30% - in the funding made available for EU member states in 2015 to support their efforts to get 650,000 young people into work.
Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Commissioner Marianne Thyssen explained that front-loading €1bn - i.e. one-third of the total for 2014-2020 - into this year is necessary because YEI schemes have been slow to take off since 2013. She promised strict checks and assessment of projects and said that this measure would not affect either budget allocations or payments from other funds.
Parliament and the Council would need to amend ESF rules by the summer to allow the plan to front-load YEI funding in 2015 to be put into effect.
Watch VOD of the debate here.
NOTE FOR EDITORS
Youth Guarantee measures in EU member states aim to reduce youth unemployment by accelerating the transition from school to work and helping to create jobs.
The YEI budget for 2014-2020 is €3.2 billion, to be matched by at least €3.2 billion from member states' European Social Fund allocations. The proposal would increase the YEI pre-financing rate in its 2015 budget allocation from 1-1.5% to up to 30%.
Member states benefiting from this initiative (Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK) could therefore receive a third of the €3.2 billion allocation immediately after the relevant dedicated operational programmes are approved.
Debate: Tuesday, 10 February
Procedure: Commission statement followed by debate
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