REPORT on implementation of the EU Youth Strategy 2010-2012

19.7.2013 - (2013/2073(INI))

Committee on Culture and Education
Rapporteur: Georgios Papanikolaou

Procedure : 2013/2073(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
A7-0238/2013

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on implementation of the EU Youth Strategy 2010-2012

(2013/2073(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 10 September 2012 entitled ‘Draft 2012 Joint Report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (EU Youth Strategy 2010-2018)’ (COM(2012)0495), and the corresponding Commission staff working document (SWD(2012)0256),

–   having regard to its resolution on ‘An EU Strategy for Youth – Investing and Empowering’[1],

–   having regard to Articles 165 and 166 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal of 23 November 2011 on a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing ‘ERASMUS FOR ALL’ - the Union Programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport (COM(2011)0788),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 20 November 2012 on ‘Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes’ (COM(2012)0669),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 15 September 2010 on ‘Youth on the Move – An initiative to unleash the potential of young people to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the European Union’ (COM(2010)0477),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 29 April 2009 on ‘An EU Strategy for Youth - Investing and Empowering. A renewed open method of coordination to address youth challenges and opportunities of youth’ (COM(2009)0200), and the corresponding Commission staff working document (SEC(2009)0549),

   having regard to the Commission proposal of 5 December 2012 entitled ‘Towards a Quality Framework on Traineeships - Second-stage consultation of the social partners at European level’ (COM(2012)0728),

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘EU 2020: a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 16 December 2010 entitled ‘The European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion: A European framework for social and territorial cohesion’(COM(2010)0758),

–   having regard to the Council conclusions of 12 May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’)[2],

–   having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2011 on ‘Youth on the Move: A framework for improving Europe’s education and training systems[3],

–   having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education and the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Committee on Regional Development (A7-0238/2013),

A. whereas the future of Europe lies with its capacity to unleash young people´s potential;

B.  whereas the crisis has led to a rise in precarious forms of employment for young people, with short-term and part-time contracts and unremunerated work placement schemes all too often replacing existing jobs;

C. whereas the overall youth unemployment rate in the EU stood at 23.5 % in February 2013; whereas 7.5 million young people aged 15 to 24, and 6.5 million aged 25 to 29, were not in education, employment or training (NEETs) in 2011;

D. whereas the economic loss resulting from the disengagement of young people from the labour market in 2011 was estimated at EUR 153 billion, corresponding to 1.2 % of EU GDP[4];

E.  whereas all young people are an integral part of society and should be recognised as such; whereas inequalities and all kinds of discrimination still persist and have a big impact on the lives of young people and their later development in society;

F.  whereas the persistent economic crisis has a severe impact on the lives of young people in terms of their wellbeing and social inclusion, employment, access to housing, health, education and training, cultural activities, leisure and sports, and is leading to an unprecedented lack of opportunities for young people in the EU; whereas there is a serious risk of having a ‘lost generation’ in a significant part of Europe; whereas this alarming situation requires urgent measures, policies and action as well as structural reforms; whereas the deteriorating economic conditions may, especially in countries heavily hit by the crisis, lead young people to involuntary migration, which can be made manifest in the form of a massive ‘brain drain’ that reduces the growth, development and innovation potential of the country of origin over the medium to long term;

G. whereas, in response to the economic crisis, several Member States have implemented severe austerity measures, including serious cuts in spending on education, training and lifelong learning programmes; whereas those measures have a detrimental effect notably on youth employment in certain Member States, in particular those in southern Europe, leading in most cases to a significant brain drain from those regions and thus accentuating inequalities within the EU;

H. whereas the existing tools at EU level have to be further developed to deal with the challenges the new generation faces, but little has been done so far, without prejudice to further improvements that can be made to them; whereas the EU Strategy for Youth is a comprehensive framework and the Member States must take full advantage of it;

I.   whereas the numbers of NEETs have risen dangerously across the EU; whereas the youth unemployment rate is unacceptably high in several Member States, while the average unemployment rates across the Union are reaching record highs, while the true figure can be masked by a marked increase in emigration among young people and becomes even more alarming taking into consideration precarious employment conditions or unreported employment, while the duration of the period of unemployment is constantly increasing;

J.   whereas young women continue to face appalling labour market conditions while constituting a clear majority of part-time workers and temporary workers;

K. whereas the economic impact of young people not being in education, employment or training was estimated in terms of a loss of EUR 153 billion in 2011, corresponding to 1.2 % of EU GDP[5]; whereas this represents a serious social and economic burden;

L.  whereas the economic crisis in the EU is increasing poverty and social exclusion, which especially affect the younger generations; whereas the impact of the crisis on young people is hindering their capacity to lead an autonomous life and in extreme cases is provoking malnutrition or mental health problems;

M. whereas the unemployment rate among young people up to the age of 25 reached 23.5 % in March 2013 and more than 2 million jobs remain vacant in Europe because of a skills mismatch, particularly in the ICT and healthcare sectors; welcomes the Commission‘s ‘EU Skills Panorama’ initiative;

N. whereas geographical mismatches between the supply and demand of jobs and skills can be observed both within and between Member States;

O. whereas many young people are in informal, temporary and insecure jobs, unrelated to their qualifications or career aims and with no clear long-term prospects; whereas many are also missing out on the opportunity to acquire the skills and self-confidence necessary for career progression;

P.  whereas young people face increasing difficulties in their transition from education into work due to disconnections between the education programmes available and the labour market; whereas lifelong learning initiatives and intergenerational projects are useful tools by which young people across the EU can be equipped with skills necessary for entering the labour market;

Q. whereas demographic groups that are underrepresented within the entrepreneurial population, especially founders of start-ups, include young people, women, the disabled and immigrants;

R.  whereas the personal and social development of young people is just as important as their academic and professional development; whereas young people play an active role in the social infrastructure of Member States and are central to sustainable and vibrant communities;

S.  whereas broadband rollout in the Member States needs to be improved in order to provide digitally-equipped schools;

T.  whereas open educational resources improve the quality, accessibility and equity of education and facilitate an interactive, creative, flexible and personalised learning process through the use of ICT and new technologies; whereas open education enhances sustained employability by supporting lifelong learning;

U. whereas the use of new technologies and social media platforms is an important means of outreach to young people and of improving their capacity to participate in society and influence political and social processes;

V. whereas economic and social problems, exacerbated by an austerity-driven response to the crisis by the EU, are increasing Euroscepticism among citizens; whereas young people are the most vulnerable segment of society;

W. whereas an effective youth policy can contribute to the development of civic awareness among young people, which is of the utmost importance for their individual emancipation and their participation in society as active citizens;

X. whereas the structured dialogue should be considered as a first step towards the establishment of an effective and fruitful dialogue among young people, youth organisations and EU and national institutions that has to be continuously improved and developed;

Assessment of the effectiveness of the EU Youth Strategy

1.  Welcomes the Commission communication on the implementation of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (EU Youth Strategy 2010-2018);

2.  Recalls the Commission’s proposal that in the context of the ongoing negotiations on the new Multiannual Financial Framework funding for youth and education policies should be increased to address current and future challenges; stresses that communication between youth task forces is essential and should be promoted, as well as communication on action undertaken and results achieved so far;

3.  Considers that the budget allocated for the fight against youth unemployment in the future MFF, namely EUR 6 billion, is insufficient and should be significantly increased in the negotiations;

4.  Calls on the Council to further enhance the focus on young people by considering youth people as a mainstreamed priority in all EU programmes under the future MFF;

5.  Considers it regrettable that the ambitious announcements made by the European Council relating to commitments for youth are not reflected in equivalent financial commitments; notes that a large part of the ‘Growth Package’ announced in 2012 consisted of a partial reallocation of structural funding that had already been promised and committed;

6.  Regrets the ambivalence shown by the Council, which is advocating additional resources for young people but is delaying negotiations on payments in connection with the amending budget for 2013, thereby threatening Erasmus scholarship payments; calls on the Council to adopt a more constructive approach by ceasing to widen the gap between payment appropriations and commitment appropriations in each annual budget;

7.  Views the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) as an appropriate means for deciding youth policies; reiterates its call for closer cooperation on youth issues between the EU institutions; calls for broader involvement of the European Parliament; stresses that the OMC needs to be carried by a strong political will on the part of the Member States, so as to deliver maximum results;

8.  Is disappointed that although the Member States were asked for specific measures in the first cycle of the EU Youth Strategy, very limited progress has been achieved; notes that in several cases the situation has worsened and that in many Member States no specific youth strategy is in place;

9.  Notes the impact of the first cycle of the Youth Strategy (2010-2012); stresses that the framework for cross-sectoral involvement of the Commission, the Member States and relevant stakeholders represents a good start but needs to be strengthened in the future by improving access to employment, education and training, thereby combating poverty and exclusion, while also using a cross-sectoral approach to spread practices across the relevant sectors;

10. Stresses the importance of the Structured Dialogue; calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop the concept and ensure a meaningful and consistent follow-up of the recommendations prepared by young people with their ministerial and institutional counterparts; further suggests reaching out directly to youth organisations and non-organised individuals at a local and regional level by ensuring that their voice is not being lost and that policy implementations lead to the positive development and empowerment of young people;

11. Considers that the development of clear and user-friendly indicators regarding the situation of young people and youth policy can be further improved, especially concerning the autonomy and participation of young people, in order to better evaluate the impact of measures undertaken under the EU Youth Strategy;

12. Calls on the Member States to issue knowledge- and evidence-based reports on the social situation and living conditions of young people, and to draw up national action plans and implement them consistently;

13. Stresses that, from early childhood, special attention should be paid to vulnerable groups at high risk of social exclusion, including NEETs and disadvantaged youth, by providing them with real and tangible employment opportunities and encouraging their active participation in society;

14. Recognises the need for a cross-sectoral and balanced approach to the eight fields of action in the EU Youth Strategy; calls for the prioritisation in a time of crisis of a youth policy which is informed and shaped by the voice and aims of young people themselves;

Challenges for the next cycle:

Education, training, innovation and funding

15. Welcomes the new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport; underlines the need for robust funding for this programme and for both a separate chapter and a separate budget allocation for the youth part;

16. Stresses that Member States and businesses should invest more in the right skills and diversify the types of training for jobs in demand, notably in technological sectors, by creating more flexible curricula, integrating entrepreneurship and transversal skills, in order to better adapt to future labour market developments; stresses the importance of enhancing youth mobility in particular by the early learning of foreign languages; calls on Member States to establish dual vocational education and training systems as an effective way of linking educational to labour market demands and reducing youth unemployment;

17. Calls on the Member States to guarantee the total transferability of acquired social benefits so as not to jeopardise welfare protection for young workers who have opted for mobility;

18. Stresses the benefits of the knowledge triangle, and urges the Member States to undertake more initiatives and to intensify the interaction between the three sides of the triangle, thus ensuring that the interaction between research, education and innovation can help to develop jobs and growth;

19. Recognises that the new ‘Horizon 2020’ programme is an appropriate framework for boosting research, innovation and excellence in science; warns, however, that spending cuts in education in some Member States are jeopardising its objectives; calls on the Member States to establish the key priorities under the programme and to take full advantage of it;

20. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to examine and propose methods to increase innovation in national curricula at school level;

21. Urges the Member States to strengthen, and remove existing crossborder barriers to, vocational training, orientation and apprenticeships, traineeships and internships, so as to make this form of education valued on a basis of equality, increase its connections with other educational pathways in a lifelong learning perspective, and better match the supply and demand of work-based training opportunities for young people, thereby improving mobility and employability, particularly in border regions;

22. Underlines the importance of addressing geographical mismatches between job supply and demand both within and between Member States, in particular through changes to the European Job Mobility Portal (EURES), in order to improve youth employment opportunities;

23. Underlines the importance of strategic investment from the EU Structural Funds in regional development, competitiveness and the creation of high-quality apprenticeships, internships and sustainable and durable jobs, thus offering young people the widest possible opportunities for employment that respects the employee’s rights in every Member State, so that precarity and the risk of poverty can be significantly reduced; further underlines the importance of economic diversification into high-added-value sectors where appropriate, and the need for an emphasis on rural and disadvantaged areas;

24. Believes that in order to tackle youth unemployment the involvement of regional and local authorities in the design and implementation of the correct policy mix is fundamental;

25. Considers that the present high unemployment rates in certain Member States could have been avoided through intensive national and regional strategies aimed at encouraging companies to hire the youth workforce;

26. Notes that alongside the EU employment strategies, cities and regions play an important role in assessing local employment markets, anticipating their needs and tailoring programmes for young people, and emphasises the importance of young people in their communities, including the island and outermost regions; calls on local and regional authorities to encourage active citizenship and to ensure that representatives of young people or youth associations participate in the different initiatives proposed by the EU;

27. Stresses the positive role that open education and open universities play in the learning process and in equipping students, including young adults, with the new skills that will be vital in the fight against unemployment; stresses that lifelong learning is a dynamic means of learning that addresses the current needs and interests of participants;

28. Underlines the importance of the acquisition of transversal skills such as ICT skills, leadership skills, critical thinking and language skills, also by studying abroad, to improve the prospects of young people on the job market and their adaptability to future labour market developments;

29. Stresses the importance of informal and non-formal learning for the development of values, aptitudes and skills for young people, as well as for learning about citizenship and democratic involvement; calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop systems that recognise competences acquired through non-formal and informal learning, voluntary work, internships and social work, and to provide support for such activities in the framework of the new programmes for education, youth and citizenship;

30. Considers that there is still space for developing peer-learning in the field of education and training as a means of facilitating the exchange of good practices among Member States;

31. Welcomes the recent commitments by the Member States and the Council to launch new youth initiatives with precise funding measures; calls on the Council to initiate similar policies in all Member States under the umbrella of a ‘New Deal’ for young people;

32. Stresses the need to encourage women to embark on careers that have generally been considered as typically ‘masculine’, especially in the IT sector;

33. Believes that early intervention and proactive labour market policies represent a shift from dealing with the symptoms of multi-generational deprivation towards identifying and managing risks early in life in order to prevent unemployment and facilitate reintegration; draws attention especially to those who are most marginalised and at greatest risk of unemployment;

34. Draws attention to the problems of inequalities at school level, truancy and the need to reduce dropout rates EU-wide; stresses the importance of increased funding in order to guarantee equal access to education as well as to reduce early school-leaving; points to the need to improve links and cooperation between actors in education, vocational training and youth work; calls for flexible learning pathways at EU and national level;

35. Identifies the education-to-work transition as an especially important moment for young people, given that the beginning of their careers has a significant impact on their future development; stresses, in this connection, the important role that early childhood development can play in breaking the vicious intergenerational cycle of low human development for disadvantaged children; calls on the Member States to strengthen the provision of advice and guidance services at an early stage in order to improve young people’s ability to make sufficiently informed decisions about their future careers, thereby making it easier for them to acquire the necessary skills and to find work relevant to the needs of the labour market; emphasises the potential for job creation in sectors such as the green economy, health, social services and ICT;

36. Stresses the importance of improving the policies aimed at easing the transition from education to employment by ensuring quality apprenticeships and traineeships;

37. Asks the Member States to target young people who are not in education, training or employment, in order to offer them quality learning and training so that they can gain the skills and experience they need to enter employment, including, for some, by facilitating their re-entry into the educational system;

38. Calls for special attention to be given to the youth prison population in order to facilitate their reintegration into society;

39. Calls on the Commission to reinforce the existing flagship initiative ‘Youth on the Move’ with new slogans such as ‘No young people out of education’ and ‘No young people out of the labour market’;

40. Recalls the risk of depriving several Member States of their talented youth, thus creating a potential brain drain; stresses that this may impede those Member States from achieving economic recovery and viable growth; calls on the Commission and Council fully to take this into account when proposing and implementing policies in the future;

41. Stresses that the creative sector can offer further and new opportunities for young people to develop their talent and skills; reminds the Commission and the Member States that new technologies empower young people´s creativity;

42. Stresses that culture in Europe represents an important share of GDP, and calls on the Member States to further encourage initiatives promoting sustainable jobs for young people in this sector;

Youth employment and entrepreneurship

43. Emphasises the importance of the socio-economic and territorial cohesion of the European Union, as specified in Article 174 TFEU, in achieving the objectives of the EU Youth Strategy, namely creating more and equal opportunities for all young people, promoting social inclusion, gender equality and solidarity for all young people, reducing the risk of poverty and increasing the proportion of the population in employment, in the context of ongoing debt reduction measures, rising youth unemployment and divergent levels of educational achievement and training;

44. Urges the Member States to take full advantage of the EU Structural Funds for 2007-2013, especially the ESF; calls on the Commission to keep Parliament regularly informed on the progress made by the Member States;

45. Asks the Commission and the Member States to mobilise all available funds, in particular in the framework of the Structural Funds, for a programme to stimulate investment in training and jobs with a view to combating the unacceptably high rate of youth unemployment, including the encouragement of business development for young people through entrepreneurship; welcomes the Youth Employment Initiative and urges the Member States and regions concerned to make full use of the funding available from the ESF and the special allocation;

46. Welcomes the new EU initiative for a Youth Guarantee scheme, to be extended also to young people under 30, which should provide them with the skills needed in the labour market ensuring them high-quality, meaningful and relevant opportunities; calls on the Member States to commit themselves to implementing the scheme in an efficient and timely manner and to fully exploit the opportunities offered under the new youth employment fund made available in the new MFF; highlights the need for sufficient funding for the initiative through the ESF and other past and future EU Structural Funds; considers the budget as indicated by the Council for the 7-year period to be insufficient;

47. Stresses, however, that the Youth Guarantee Scheme cannot replace the structural efforts and reforms needed to make the education systems and labour markets in some Member States fit for the challenges of the future;

48. Calls on the Commission to provide incentives and technical support for young people to create their own businesses, under the slogan: ‘If you can’t find a job, just create one’;

49. Proposes to enhance the entrepreneurial spirit among young people by facilitating access to microcredit and microfinance instruments;

50. Considers that fiscal consolidation should not be implemented in a way that affects jobs for young people; calls on the Member States to provide more incentives for supporting quality employment for young people, such as relief on taxes and social contributions and establishing appropriate labour market legislation;

51. Recognises that social enterprises can play an important role in promoting high-quality jobs and fighting poverty and social exclusion, by investing in education and training for young Europeans;

52. Stresses the need for Member States to provide a safety net for failed start-ups; calls on them to eliminate red tape;

New technologies and social media

53. Calls on the Commission to launch a survey to monitor the impact of new technologies and social media on young people’s lives;

54. Stresses the need for Member States to implement strategies supporting young people’s access to ICT;

55. Calls on the Commission to take advantage of the dynamism of social media in education, training and youth participation in order to increase employability and enhance entrepreneurship, innovation and culture;

56. Emphasises the need to protect young people from all forms of abuse, including online attacks and abuse relating to their personal data and health;

57. Stresses the need to improve communication and uptake in respect of the Commission’s youth initiatives (e.g. the European Youth Portal), through social networks and increased engagement with youth organisations and youth representatives;

58. Welcomes the announced Commission communication ‘Opening Up Education’ aimed at improving the efficiency, accessibility and equity of education, training and learning systems by strengthening the integration of ICT and new technologies in education and training; calls on all Member States to encourage initiatives to open up education, for example through the introduction of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs);

Youth participation and European citizenship

59. Welcomes the fact that 2013 has been declared the European Year of Citizens; stresses the need to better involve young people by encouraging them to share their vision for the EUs future;

60. Calls on the Commission to continue and increase its support for the European youth card, in order to facilitate young people’s access to culture throughout the EU;

61. Stresses the vital importance of sport, exercise and social activities for encouraging youth participation as a tool that can have a huge impact on local communities and can help address many of the societal challenges facing youth, such as tackling social exclusion and giving young people a sense of pride and self-worth; stresses, furthermore, that the physical and mental benefits of exercise help make young people fit for work;

62. Underlines the importance of conveying solid youth-oriented messages on the part of the EU, supported by actual policies in view of the 2014 European elections;

63. Calls on the Commission to develop more initiatives to strengthen EU integration; urges the Member States to incorporate European studies courses into education curricula;

64. Stresses the importance of using information and communication technologies, including social networks, with the specific aim of deepening participation;

65. Stresses the need to develop more outreach programmes for marginalised groups and to provide support for the youth sector to develop its structures and channels of communication so as to reach out to more young people, particularly those at risk of social exclusion;

66. Underlines the importance of the ‘Youth in Action’ programme, which promotes young people’s active citizenship, develops solidarity and promotes tolerance among young people;

67. Stresses the role of youth organisations, as the main channel for participation, and of volunteers, and that this needs to be strengthened through support mechanisms, suitable legal frameworks and clear identification of rights and responsibilities as outlined in the European Charter on the Rights of Volunteers; calls on the Commission and the Member States to secure political and financial support for youth work, and especially for youth organisations involved in EU projects;

68. Considers the possibility for young people to live an autonomous life as the overriding priority that the youth strategy should address in the forthcoming period; for this reason, calls on the Commission and the Member States to focus cooperation in the youth field on youth autonomy and the participation of all young people in society;

General principles

69. Underlines the importance of eliminating all kinds of discrimination among young people, including discrimination based on gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age and sexual orientation;

70. Stresses that the fight against gender inequalities and stereotypes should be an integral part of an effective youth policy in order to prevent and eliminate, in particular, violence against women;

71. Stresses the importance of recognising and engaging directly with young people as a priority group in the EU’s social vision, thereby enhancing their influence, development, wellbeing and social inclusion;

72. Emphasises the need to provide efficient and individualised support to young people with disabilities;

o

o         o

73. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

  • [1]  OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 21.
  • [2]  OJ C 119, 28.5.2009, p. 2.
  • [3]  OJ C 377, 7.12.2012, p. 77.
  • [4]  Eurofound (2012), ‘NEETs – Young people not in employment, education or training: Characteristics, costs and policy responses in Europe’, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.
  • [5]  Eurofound (2012), ‘NEETs – Young people not in employment, education or training: Characteristics, costs and policy responses in Europe’. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

The Commission Communication

On 27 April 2009, for the first time, the Commission published a Communication defining a new EU strategy for the youth, aimed at setting a framework for cooperation on youth issues for the coming decade and at providing young people with more and better opportunities for their lives. The Strategy has been split into three equal timing working cycles and eight fields of action, namely a) education & training, b) employment & entrepreneurship, c) health & well- being, d) social inclusion, e) participation, f) voluntary activities, g) culture & creativity, h) Youth & the World. At the end of each cycle a progress report must be published in order to evaluate and to establish a set of priorities for the work cycle that follows. Indeed, on 10 September 2012, the Commission published the first report on the implementation of the EU Youth Strategy’s first cycle.

The first cycle focused on and gave priority in enhancing cooperation among Member States on youth issues and policies. Moreover, youth employability, the encouragement of entrepreneurship and the promoting of youth participation were the main topics where the EU Youth Strategy focused on. Indeed, several Member States made significant progress towards developing a national youth strategy plan, which was a core target of the first cycle. The EU Youth Strategy actions are allocated in eight fields of action, and progress made by Member States varies across countries. .Regarding “employment & entrepreneurship”, the first structured dialogue is focused on youth employment, especially on the field of concrete actions to fight the escalating youth unemployment. Moreover EU initiatives such as the “Youth Guarantee” , , and the anticipated increase on funding for youth via the “Erasmus for All” programme in the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020 are further supporting Member States’ policies.

Initiatives and progress made in all fields of actions (education, employment etc.) are included in the relevant Commission’s Communication.

The new cycle of the EU Youth Strategy (2013-2015)

According to the Commission’s proposal the next cycle (2013-2015) will continue to focus on youth employment and will target in particular those who are not in employment, education or training, by fully using EU funding. The Commission recognises that the impact of the crisis on the youth should be faced more effectively, since youth unemployment has risen to unacceptable levels, especially in the South of the EU, i.e. in Greece (59.1% in January 2013), Spain(55.9%), Italy(38.4%) and Portugal (38.3%)). To meet this challenge Member States should make full use of available EU funding and fully exploit the options for a way out offered by the Youth Opportunities Initiative, in benefit of young people who are not in employment, education or training. In addition to that, the Annual Growth Survey reveals clear signs of increase in the number of people at risk of crossing the poverty line, notably child poverty. This is another topic that Europe should deal with in the second cycle. Under this scope, the EU Youth Strategy should reach out to vulnerable young people by focusing on the overall participation of youngsters in the civil society and by alleviating the consequences of the current crisis on social inclusion as well as its effects on the health and well-being of young people.

Rapporteurs remarks

Within the given space restrictions, the current report tries to highlight, propose, and contribute in finding appropriate solutions on most challenging issues that the young generation is facing today. The main aim remains to enhance the policies undertaken by Member States, so that they achieve the best possible results and reach their targets. Moreover, the report aspirates to shed light on issues that are so far not covered by the current EU Youth Strategy. For example, the role of new technologies and social media cannot be sidelined, since their input in all aspects of young people’s life (from employment and participation to amusement and expression) is tremendously escalating nowadays.

It is beyond any doubt that three years after the release of the report ‘An EU Strategy for Youth – Investing and Empowering’, the socioeconomic indicators in Europe have significantly changed. The situation then is not comparable to what the EU has to tackle today. The persistent economic crisis currently storming across Europe is leading to unprecedented poor levels of opportunities for the youth. This is a challenge that should be urgently faced by targeted measures and appropriate funding, as the President Barroso also stated in January 2012 outlining the relevant Commission initiative on youth unemployment. Emphasising these facts, the Rapporteur urges the EU to act immediately in order to prevent the further worsening of the situation. By implementing the EU Youth Strategy, Europe can, for the first time in its history, put into action tools, policies and mechanisms with a potential to respond in an integrated way to the challenges the young generation is facing today. This is, indeed, a step forward but cannot be deemed sufficient to cancel the consequences of this crisis which has, in same cases, spread more rapidly than the EU has been able to react. The Lisbon Treaty reserves increased competences of the Member States on youth issues (subsidiarity), thus a decision cannot be fully taken at European level. However, there are good practices, funding tools, and specific options as the first evaluation Commission report reveals.

What is now of outmost importance is to adapt those tools – starting from the new MFF and the new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport up to new initiatives (European Youth Guarantee etc) – in a way that reassures for youth the optimum results.

In light of the above and apart from the EU call for more spending on education, innovation and youth entrepreneurship, we are facing serious cuts in the relevant budget by a remarkable number of Member States, a fact that not only poses serious barriers on the effective implementation of the EU youth strategy but is also threatening to suspend the targets of the “EU 2020” Strategy. In addition to that, Members States make only partial use of the EU Structural Funds to support education, employment or training. Last year almost 30 billion euros from the European Social Fund ( ESF) were still undeclared by Member States. This is a disappointing number. Taking under consideration that the new MFF expands further investments on those fields, it is clear that Member States should develop more effective tools and should take on more targeted actions.

Furthermore, more clearly defined instruments and indicators are needed. Although task forces for youth are now working in eight Member States, no significant progress has been observable so far, a fact that stresses the need for better information over the competences and mission of task forces. In 2011, the economic loss due to the disengagement of young people from the labour market was estimated at EUR 153 billion, corresponding to 1.2 % of the EU GDP. This element poses a serious socioeconomic burden. Simultaneously, excessive unemployment rates in some Member States force youth to migrate, increasing the risk of brain drain and the negative consequences on those young people’s countries of origin, while at the same time making it makes more difficult for those Member States to regain their competitiveness and to return to sustainable economic growth based on high skills. This situation is accentuated at regional level, as recent studies of the Commission show.

Job mismatching is an additional challenge the Rapporteur focuses on. Although some positive initiatives are important, such as the online tool “EU Skills Panorama”, which aims at tackling skills mismatches, they are certainly not enough. According to data, 2 million jobs remain vacant in Europe because of skills mismatch at times of high unemployment among youngsters. This inevitably leads to serious concerns regarding the ability of national educational systems to be adjustable to current labour demands. In fact, the number of young people who are currently not in education, employment or in training (NEETs) has risen dramatically across the EU (over 22%), intensified in some cases by social exclusion, homelessness and poverty; facts supporting concerns that we are facing the danger of creating a “lost generation”.

Meanwhile, new challenges have appeared. Stimulated by the impact of the crisis, extremism and radicalism have found fertile ground to grow. This is a development that profoundly effects youth, even in countries (as the Eurobarometer shows) in which the crisis has had less severe impact. The Rapporteur believes that the new cycle of the EU Youth Strategy should further focus on this aspect by suggesting precise actions and policies, included in this report. Those proposals shall also be combined with boosting youth participation in the European debate and discussions. Indeed, the cross-sector approach has so far led to successful results, although, according to the Rapporteur, one needs to include a greater number of young people (i.e. individuals and not organised youngsters).

The Rapporteur believes that an EU Youth Strategy should also take under consideration new technologies and the role of social media on young people’s lives. Indeed, youth employability, entrepreneurship, training and education need an environment of high and modern skills. It is rather disappointing that there are still high numbers of young people with a very low level of or no computer knowledge, while at the same time broadband speeds have not yet reached all European citizens. According to the Commission, 20% of secondary education students have never or almost never used a computer in their school lessons, while only 50% of 16 years old students attend a highly digitally-equipped school. At the same time, 80% of young Europeans between the age of 16-24 use internet for social networking and almost 230.000 job positions in Europe are supported by it.

Besides those challenges, the historic call for the EU has been and remains the need to deliver a clear and optimistic message that Europe is dedicated to overthrow the above mentioned threats, by creating clear shines of hope. According to the Rapporteur this can be better achieved by prioritizing fields of action in the next cycle so that none of the eight fields will be sidelined. Within the confines of this report, the Rapporteur has tried to enlighten fields where further action should be undertaken. With this aim, he prioritises actions and proposes new tools and policies to aid youth in the short, mid and long term. He also insists on the view that the European Parliament, as the sole EU institution democratically elected by and accountable to the European citizens, should have a stronger say in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the EU Youth Strategy.

It is, indeed, of outmost importance that during this period of crisis, the EU will continue to inspire youth. By providing more opportunities in education and in all forms of training, by investing on young people and supporting the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, by bravely funding youth programs and by believing that every single euro spent for the young generation has multiplying effects on growth in Europe, as well as on its future social cohesion. The EU has the appropriate tools and policies to make this a reality. But nothing can be achieved without Member States’ determination. With the EU Youth Strategy we send clear messages, we prioritise and build guidelines. It lies on the Member States, however, - especially on those facing the most important problems – to fully use those guidelines in an urgent and effective way. We need to speed up, we need to correct or subsidize ineffective initiatives, and we need to remain dedicated to a historic call for the EU. Against pessimistic estimations, against doom forecasts, we shall remain optimistic that we will achieve our goals.

OPINION of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (31.5.2013)

for the Committee on Culture and Education

on implementation of the EU Youth Strategy 2010-2012
2013/2073(INI))

Rapporteur: Ole Christensen

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs calls on the Committee on Culture and Education, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

A. whereas the crisis has led to a rise in precarious forms of employment for young people, with short-term and part-time contracts and unremunerated work placement schemes all too often replacing existing jobs;

B.  whereas the overall EU youth unemployment rate stood at 23.5 % in February 2013 and whereas 7.5 million young people aged 15 to 24, and 6.5 million aged 25 to 29, were not in education, employment or training (NEETs) in 2011;

C. whereas the economic loss resulting from the disengagement of young people from the labour market in 2011 was estimated at EUR 153 billion, corresponding to 1.2 % of EU GDP[1];

1.  Notes the impact of the first cycle of the Youth Strategy (2010-2012); stresses that the framework for cross-sectoral involvement of the Commission, the Member States and relevant stakeholders was a good start, but that it should be strengthened in the future by improving access to employment, education and training, thereby combating poverty and exclusion, while also using a cross-sectoral approach to spread practices across the relevant sectors;

2.  Notes that the employment aspects of the Youth Strategy have become ever more pressing given the current crisis, the alarmingly high levels of youth unemployment and the estimated cost of ‘non-action’ in the EU; considers that, in view of the nearly 2 million unfilled vacancies in the EU, the next cycle (2013-2015) should contribute to the Youth Strategy’s two overall objectives (creating equal opportunities for youth in the labour market and promoting social inclusion) by focusing on youth unemployment, education and training; stresses that due account should be taken of the impact of the crisis on young people and their participation in society; warns against bringing young people into employment by any means, as this entails the risk that the quality of such employment, along with young people’s rights at work and especially the right to decent income, may be ignored; stresses, therefore, that the Youth Strategy should help to create high-quality jobs which enable young people to live independently and poverty-free;

3.  Recalls the Europe 2020 headline targets, namely having 75 % of the population aged 20 to 64 in employment, reducing early school-leaving to rates below 10 % and lifting at least 20 million people out of poverty and social exclusion; stresses that the implementation of the next cycle of the Youth Strategy should be closely linked to achieving the Europe 2020 headline targets;

4.  Calls on the Member States to issue knowledge- and evidence-based reports on the social situation and living conditions of young people and to draw up national action plans and implement them consistently;

5.  Stresses that, from early childhood, special attention should be paid to vulnerable groups at high risk of social exclusion, including people who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs) and disadvantaged youth, by providing them with real and tangible employment opportunities and encouraging their active participation in society;

6.  Stresses the need to combat early school-leaving; stresses that without major integrated action, the Europe 2020 objective of reducing early school-leaving will not be achieved; calls on all actors to secure the transition from education and training to employment through dialogue among the individuals concerned, the education sector, employment services and social and family services, through better links between initial and further vocational training and youth employment so as to promote adequate training geared to the needs of labour market reintegration programmes offering a second chance, and through the introduction of dual education systems;

7.  Identifies the education-to-work transition as an especially important moment for young people, given that the beginning of their careers has a significant impact on their future development; stresses, in this connection, the important role that early childhood development can play in breaking the vicious intergenerational cycle of low human development for disadvantaged children; calls on the Member States to strengthen the provision of advice and guidance services at an early stage in order to improve young people’s ability to make sufficiently informed decisions about their future careers, thereby making it easier for young people to acquire the necessary skills and to find work relevant to the needs of the labour market; emphasises the potential for job creation in sectors such as the green economy, health, social services and ICT;

8.  Recognises the importance of traineeships – in particular as part of a training qualification or university course – in helping young people to acquire training and experience; stresses that safeguards for young people must be respected and that the Commission should therefore propose a definition of high-quality traineeships, including criteria relating to social protection, appropriate compensation, working conditions (with due regard for national approaches) and health and safety standards, regardless of the length of the traineeship;

9.  Calls on the Commission to propose a Quality Framework on Traineeships and an Alliance for Apprenticeships, aimed at promoting high-quality traineeships across the EU for students and young people; calls on the Member States to implement Youth Guarantee schemes – covering young people up to the age of 30 – as a matter of urgency and to launch projects immediately in order to combat youth unemployment, drawing on the EUR 6 billion in EU funds available for the Youth Employment Initiative and adding sufficient own resources to facilitate their implementation; calls on the Commission to give practical support to Member States implementing Youth Guarantee schemes, recalling the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR);

10. Stresses that the success of a Youth Guarantee scheme is highly dependent on having other public policies in place – including active and inclusive labour market policies – which ensure that employment services have the necessary infrastructure and capacity to provide tailored, personalised services to young people; points out that a successful Youth Guarantee scheme is also dependent on the efforts of employers and the inclusion of the social partners and youth organisations;

11. Stresses that young people’s voluntary mobility should be enhanced – including through the EURES job portal and the Lifelong Learning and Youth in Action programmes – in order to improve education, training and mutual learning and to match the labour supply more closely to demand;

12. Stresses that European funding can be an important complement to the necessary investments from national budgets, especially in those Member States and regions most affected by the crisis and facing particularly high youth unemployment; calls on the Member States to exploit the potential of the European Social Fund (ESF) when implementing the Youth Strategy, recalling the ESF’s focus on social inclusion, combating poverty and supporting sustainable jobs; takes the view that the ESF should therefore be allocated at least 25 % of the financial resources set aside for cohesion policy; stresses that resources and funding initiatives for youth employment should be seen not as a cost but as a long-term, continuous key investment aimed at maximising young people’s potential in relation both to the labour market and to society as a whole; stresses that there is a strong social, democratic and economic argument for such investment and points to the high ‘return’ yielded by investment in training and skills;

13. Emphasises that successful implementation of the Youth Strategy requires continuous, consistent and coordinated involvement of all relevant stakeholders, in particular the social partners, youth organisations and representatives of national youth councils; calls on the Member States to examine how examples of best practice from other Member States may be applicable to their own labour markets; believes that the Structured Dialogue is a valuable way of involving young people in decision-making and enhancing ownership of the Youth Strategy; calls on the Member States to embrace the use of this forum during the next cycle of the Youth Strategy.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

30.5.2013

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

35

2

1

Members present for the final vote

Edit Bauer, Heinz K. Becker, Jean-Luc Bennahmias, Phil Bennion, Pervenche Berès, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Milan Cabrnoch, Alejandro Cercas, Ole Christensen, Derek Roland Clark, Minodora Cliveti, Marije Cornelissen, Frédéric Daerden, Sari Essayah, Richard Falbr, Marian Harkin, Nadja Hirsch, Stephen Hughes, Danuta Jazłowiecka, Martin Kastler, Ádám Kósa, Jean Lambert, Patrick Le Hyaric, Verónica Lope Fontagné, Olle Ludvigsson, Thomas Mann, Csaba Őry, Sylvana Rapti, Licia Ronzulli, Nicole Sinclaire, Joanna Katarzyna Skrzydlewska, Jutta Steinruck, Traian Ungureanu

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Malika Benarab-Attou, Iliana Malinova Iotova, Svetoslav Hristov Malinov, Ria Oomen-Ruijten, Antigoni Papadopoulou

  • [1]  Eurofound (2012), ‘NEETs – Young people not in employment, education or training: Characteristics, costs and policy responses in Europe’, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.

OPINION of the Committee on Regional Development (3.6.2013)

for the Committee on Culture and Education

on implementation of the EU Youth Strategy 2010-2012
(2013/2073(INI))

Rapporteur: Martina Anderson

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Regional Development calls on the Committee on Culture and Education, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

1.  Emphasises the importance of the socio-economic and territorial cohesion of the European Union, as specified in Article 174 TFEU, in achieving the objectives of the EU Youth Strategy, namely creating more and equal opportunities for all young people, promoting social inclusion, gender equality and solidarity for all young people, reducing the risk of poverty and increasing the proportion of the population in employment, in the context of ongoing debt reduction measures, rising youth unemployment and divergent levels of educational achievement and training;

2.  Believes that the EU’s first priority should be the fight against youth unemployment in Europe; is worried about the alarming level of young people with neither education nor jobs; believes that if the EU cannot address this challenge properly, the lack of prospects for young people will undermine confidence in the European project;

3.  Underlines the importance of strategic investment of EU structural funding in regional development, competitiveness and the creation of high-quality apprenticeships, internships and sustainable and durable jobs, giving young people the widest possible opportunities for employment that respects the employee’s rights in every Member State, so that precarity and the risk of poverty can be significantly reduced; further underlines the importance of economic diversification into high-added-value sectors, where appropriate, and the need for an emphasis on rural and disadvantaged areas;

4.  Underlines the importance of addressing geographical mismatches between job supply and demand both within and between Member States, in particular through changes to the European Job Mobility Portal (EURES), in order to improve youth employment opportunities;

5.  Believes that early intervention and proactive labour market policies represent a shift from dealing with the symptoms of multi-generational deprivation towards identifying and managing risks early in life in order to prevent unemployment and facilitate reintegration; draws special attention to those who are most marginalised and at greatest risk of unemployment;

6.  Suggests that the most effective avenue for progress is the development of a framework which explicitly links outcomes with progress on implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), supporting the view that youth policy needs to be robust and measurable;

7.  Notes that alongside the EU employment strategies, cities and regions play an important role in assessing local employment markets, anticipating their needs and tailoring programmes for young people, and emphasises the importance of young people in their communities, including island and outermost regions; calls on local and regional authorities to encourage active citizenship and to ensure that representatives of young people or youth associations participate in the different initiatives proposed by the EU;

8.  Emphasises that EU programmes, and especially structural and cohesion funding, are the most efficient instruments for creating new jobs and supporting entrepreneurship among young people;

9.  Considers it regrettable that great announcements made by the European Council relating to commitments for youth are not reflected in equivalent financial commitments; notes that a large part of the ‘Growth Package’ announced in 2012 consisted mainly of a partial reallocation of structural funding that had already been promised and committed;

10. Urges the Member States to remove existing barriers to cross-border apprenticeships, traineeships and internships, so as to better match the supply and demand of work‑based training opportunities for young people, thereby improving mobility and employability, particularly in border regions;

11. Considers regrettable the ambivalence shown by the Council, which is advocating additional resources for young people but delaying negotiations on payments in connection with the amending budget for 2013, thereby threatening Erasmus scholarship payments; calls on the Council to adopt a more constructive approach by ceasing to widen the gap between payment appropriations and commitment appropriations in each annual budget;

12. Asks the Commission and the Member States to mobilise all available funds, in particular in the framework of the Structural Funds, for a programme to stimulate investments in training and jobs with a view to combating the unacceptably high rate of youth unemployment, including the encouragement of business development for young people through entrepreneurship; welcomes the Youth Employment Initiative and urges the Member States and regions concerned to make full use of the funding available from the European Social Fund (ESF) and the special allocation;

13. Considers that the high unemployment rates in certain Member States could have been avoided through intensive national and regional strategies aimed at encouraging companies to hire the youth workforce;

14. Proposes that the Youth Guarantee Scheme be adequately funded through better use of the ESF;

15. Stresses that more support should be given to developing the entrepreneurial spirit among young people through access to EU funds and the provision of business advice;

16. Considers that new programmes should be drawn up with a view to providing young people with a high-quality technological education and promoting opportunities for them to specialise or to work in another Member State;

17. Recognises that social enterprises can play an important role in promoting high-quality jobs and fighting poverty and social exclusion, by investing in education and training for young Europeans.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

30.5.2013

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

41

0

1

Members present for the final vote

Luís Paulo Alves, Jean-Jacob Bicep, John Bufton, Nikos Chrysogelos, Francesco De Angelis, Danuta Maria Hübner, Filiz Hakaeva Hyusmenova, Vincenzo Iovine, María Irigoyen Pérez, Seán Kelly, Mojca Kleva Kekuš, Constanze Angela Krehl, Petru Constantin Luhan, Iosif Matula, Erminia Mazzoni, Ana Miranda, Jens Nilsson, Jan Olbrycht, Wojciech Michał Olejniczak, Markus Pieper, Tomasz Piotr Poręba, Georgios Stavrakakis, Csanád Szegedi, Nuno Teixeira, Lambert van Nistelrooij, Oldřich Vlasák, Kerstin Westphal, Hermann Winkler, Joachim Zeller, Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Martina Anderson, Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă, Karin Kadenbach, Lena Kolarska-Bobińska, Elisabeth Schroedter, Patrice Tirolien, Evžen Tošenovský, Manfred Weber, Iuliu Winkler

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

Albert Deß, Takis Hadjigeorgiou, Katarína Neveďalová

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

18.6.2013

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

28

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Zoltán Bagó, Lothar Bisky, Piotr Borys, Jean-Marie Cavada, Silvia Costa, Santiago Fisas Ayxela, Lorenzo Fontana, Mary Honeyball, Petra Kammerevert, Emma McClarkin, Marek Henryk Migalski, Katarína Neveďalová, Doris Pack, Chrysoula Paliadeli, Monika Panayotova, Gianni Pittella, Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid, Marco Scurria, Hannu Takkula, László Tőkés, Helga Trüpel, Sabine Verheyen, Milan Zver

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

François Alfonsi, Liam Aylward, Ivo Belet, Nadja Hirsch, Iosif Matula, Georgios Papanikolaou, Inês Cristina Zuber

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă