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Procedure : 2020/2764(RSP)
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O-000058/2020 (B9-0018/2020)

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PV 05/10/2020 - 24
CRE 05/10/2020 - 24

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Debates
Monday, 5 October 2020 - Brussels Provisional edition

24. Reinforcing the Youth Guarantee (debate)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. – The next item is the debate on:

– the oral question to the Council on reinforcing the Youth Guarantee by Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová, Cindy Franssen, Brando Benifei, Monica Semedo, Elena Lizzi, Kira Marie Peter-Hansen, Elżbieta Rafalska and Leila Chaibi, on behalf of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (O-000058/2020 - B9-0018/20), and

– the oral question to the Commission on reinforcing the Youth Guarantee by Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová, Cindy Franssen, Brando Benifei, Monica Semedo, Elena Lizzi, Kira Marie Peter-Hansen, Elżbieta Rafalska and Leila Chaibi, on behalf of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (O-000059/2020 - B9-0019/20).

 
  
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  Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová, author. – Mr President, in her political priorities, Commission President von der Leyen recognised the success of the Youth Guarantee in the fight against youth unemployment and declared it should be given an increased budget and involve regular reporting to ensure that it delivers on what it promises in every Member State. On 1 July this year, the Commission put forward a proposal for a Council recommendation on reinforcing the Youth Guarantee. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment and inactivity rates in the EU are rising and millions of people are at risk of losing their jobs. As past experience shows, young people are likely to be hardest hit by the negative consequences of this crisis. However, the 15% allocation of the four targeted actions for young people not in employment contained in the amended Commission proposal on the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) has been reduced to 10% in the European Council’s conclusion, which runs wholly counter to the Union’s ambitions to invest in young people.

On behalf of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL), my questions to the Council are: does the Council consider that this significant reduction supports the Union’s ambitions to invest in young people? How can it be justified if the fight against youth unemployment is one of the Union’s top priorities? How can this significant reduction address the need to develop skills and contribute to tackling the social and employment challenges of the post COVID-19 era? How does the Council intend to encourage Member States to enhance the efficiency of this instrument? Does the Council support Parliament’s view that the quality of jobs and traineeships offered to young people is key to ensuring their sustainable integration into the labour market? Does the Council plan to introduce binding quality criteria for the offers? What concrete measures does the Council intend to take in order to improve the outreach strategies and the inclusiveness of the Youth Guarantee?

Now my questions to the Commission: what is the Commission’s assessment of the reduction that I previously mentioned? How does the Commission intend to improve the monitoring of the implementation of the Youth Guarantee and encourage Member States to enhance its efficiency? Does the Commission support Parliament’s call to strengthen the quality of offers of employment under this instrument, for example, by reviewing the recommendation on a quality framework for traineeships and by supporting the introduction of a binding principle of remuneration? How does the Commission plan to encourage the Member States to implement this and to help them define binding criteria for quality offers? The last question would be: what concrete measures does the Commission intend to take to reduce unemployment by promoting participation in vocational training programmes under the Youth Guarantee?

 
  
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  Michael Roth, amtierender Ratspräsident. – Herr Präsident, verehrte Abgeordnete, lieber Kommissar! Zu später Stunde ein wichtiges Thema. Ich hoffe, dass ich meine Gedanken noch ein wenig zu ordnen vermag. Das bin ich gar nicht gewohnt, so lange im Parlament zu sitzen. Aber ich stehe Ihnen natürlich uneingeschränkt zu Diensten.

Die Lage ist dramatisch. Wir haben im Jahr 2013 die Jugendgarantie als Reaktion auf eine furchtbare wirtschaftliche und soziale Krise auf den Weg gebracht, möglicherweise ein bisschen zu spät. Wir haben auch – in einer damals nicht einfachen Lage – versucht, aus den Fehlern zu lernen.

Ich würde uns allen dazu raten, jetzt, wo die Jugendarbeitslosigkeit wieder dramatisch steigt – in viel zu vielen Mitgliedstaaten –, sehr rasch die richtigen und notwendigen Konsequenzen zu ziehen, denn es muss für uns alle klar sein: Wir dürfen es niemals zulassen, dass eine ganze Generation von jungen Menschen verlorenzugehen droht.

Sie erwarten von uns etwas: dass wir ihnen dabei helfen, eine Perspektive zu haben und in Beschäftigung zu bleiben oder mit notwendiger Qualifizierung in Beschäftigung zu kommen.

Wir haben am zweiten Tag der deutschen Ratspräsidentschaft die Vorschläge der Kommission auf den Tisch gelegt bekommen, und ich darf Ihnen allen sagen – so viele sind es ja jetzt nicht mehr –, dass wir sehr weit vorangekommen sind und in Bälde auch einen entsprechenden Beschluss im Rat werden treffen können. Wir wollen, dass die Jugendgarantie dadurch gestärkt wird, dass die Altersgrenze erhöht wird, und zwar auf höchstens 29 Jahre; wir wollen mehr Inklusivität.

Lassen Sie mich noch ein paar weitere Punkte hier hervorheben. Wir erwarten und wir empfehlen, dass die Mitgliedstaaten ihr Angebot im Rahmen der Jugendgarantie verbessern, beispielsweise durch Bewertung der digitalen Kompetenzen aller Personen, die weder einen Arbeitsplatz haben noch eine schulische oder berufliche Ausbildung absolvieren können.

Die Staaten werden außerdem aufgefordert, Weiterbildung und Neuqualifizierung zu ermöglichen. Das Angebot sollte auf die Bedürfnisse der einzelnen Personen, die weder einen Arbeitsplatz haben noch eine Ausbildung absolvieren, ausgerichtet sein, und dabei brauchen wir nachvollziehbare und hohe Standards für Qualität und für Gerechtigkeit.

Besondere Aufmerksamkeit muss den jungen Frauen gelten und den benachteiligten Gruppen, einschließlich Menschen mit Behinderungen. Die gehören in der Regel zu den ersten Opfern einer angespannten Situation auf unseren Arbeitsmärkten.

Abschließend betonen wir noch einmal, dass allen Mitgliedstaaten mit Nachdruck empfohlen wird, auch die notwendigen Finanzmittel zur Verfügung zu stellen.

Wenn ich mir aber die Liste der Staaten anschaue, die derzeit mit einem dramatischen Anwuchs der Jugendarbeitslosigkeit zu rechnen haben, dann wird es auch maßgeblich auf „Next Generation EU“ und auf den neuen mehrjährigen Finanzrahmen ankommen, dass wir rasch, flexibel und zielgenau die Mittel dort zur Verfügung stellen können, wo sie dringend gebraucht werden: bei den jungen Menschen. Dabei haben Sie unsere uneingeschränkte Unterstützung.

 
  
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  Nicolas Schmit, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, I first want to thank the Members of the Parliament for this question which underlines the importance of youth employment and especially the threat of massive youth unemployment. I share your analysis; I share your description, and I share also your concerns and what the President of the Council has just said about our concern: we have to prevent a new lost generation. I think this is a common duty of all of us in the Member States and at the level of the Union. Indeed, youth unemployment is rising very rapidly in certain Member States, and therefore, when we compare it to last year August, it has increased by 2.8 percentage points already, reaching 17.6% in the EU in August 2020, and it is significantly higher than the general unemployment rate, which stands at 7.4 in the EU, which shows that the young are much more sensitive to the recession and that they are the first victims of this crisis.

Tackling youth unemployment is a pressing priority, given the hard impact also of the COVID-19 crisis on young generations. It is only with resolute, as the President of the Council has said, bold and swift action that we can turn things around before the situation aggravates further.

Our youth employment support – YES, as we call it – package adopted in July provides a first step for such a resolute action. But the Commission cannot do it alone; we have to rely on Member States, but we also have to rely on the European Parliament. This is why I welcome Parliament’s resolution on the Youth Guarantee. I share your view that the fight against youth unemployment is a common political priority for Parliament. It is certainly a common priority for the Commission, and I’m sure also, as I heard now, it is a priority for the Member States, as it contributes to achieving the Union’s objective of sustainable and inclusive growth and social and economic resilience. Therefore I welcome what the President has just said, that the German Presidency is about to adopt the proposal of our strengthened Youth Guarantee.

The European Parliament and its Members have a crucial role to play in the next chapter of our reinforced Youth Guarantee. You can fuel the national debates like no other institution. You can raise the bar in terms of our joint ambition for implementing the reinforced Youth Guarantee and improving it further in the years to come. First and foremost, the Commission counts on the European Parliament for ensuring adequate levels of EU funding, supporting the success story that is the Youth Guarantee. But as a response to your first question, certainly the Commission is never happy if the funding is reduced. But we need to maximize synergies between the Youth Guarantee, the European Social Fund Plus, REACT-EU and the Recovery and Resilience Facility, as well as the many other relevant EU funds and instruments now available to the Member States. And I think we can pool a lot of funding, a lot of resources for the fight against youth employment and especially by creating jobs, and I think this is also one of your major concerns. Our ambition must be – and that has been clearly expressed by the Commission – that we invest at least 22 billion on youth employment, and I also call on the Member States to support this ambition. We need to create and save jobs – and, I insist, quality jobs – which also answers your question, and the recovery has to be focused on the creation of quality jobs, and that’s the meaning of the Next Generation EU. And when I say quality jobs, I mean not these precarious jobs that do not allow young people to plan their lives, to found a family and to afford decent housing. Too many young people, precisely those in precarious jobs, were the first to be fired, to lose their jobs, to lose their income, and I think that we have to draw the right lessons from that.

I know the call to review the quality framework for traineeships concerning the obligation for remuneration of traineeships. I have some doubt if this is legally possible, but I’m sure that in the years to come we can further develop a joint understanding, and also a civil society and social partners would be able to contribute to such an understanding too. And paying young people who are at work, even in the context of a traineeship, should be part of the social responsibility of companies. And by the way, I think a lot of companies have this social responsibility.

Finally, let me be clear about the monitoring. Supporting the quantitative monitoring of Youth Guarantee schemes based on the established indicative framework is crucial and remains a priority. We are looking into strengthening this process, and the Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs will be our partner in this endeavour.

Before I close, allow me one word on vocational education and training. Vocational education, be it at the very start of a career or along the career, is not only the best transition between education and the labour market but it is also a truly effective way for re- and upskilling. The Commission has renewed the European Alliance for Apprenticeships to ensure a sustained offer of apprenticeships and to align it with the twin digital and green transitions. Moreover we propose the Council recommendation on vocational education and training to modernise and reform those systems, and under the German Presidency we had a very fruitful meeting in Osnabrück really to promote vocational training.

In closing, let me reiterate our appreciation for the work of the European Parliament and its continued efforts to contribute to our common efforts to make the recovery just and fair for all, including also the young.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Thursday, 8 October 2020.

Written statements (Rule 171)

 
  
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  Victor Negrescu (S&D), in writing. – Since 2013, the Youth Guarantee has created opportunities and has helped over 24 million young people to find employment or participate in a continuing education, apprenticeship or traineeship programme. Despite that, too many young people are still in precarious work, and too many have to leave their region or country to find a decent job. The situation has become even more complicated in the context of the pandemic. I welcome the creation of a reinforced Youth Guarantee covering a wider age bracket to include young people aged 15-29 and applying a more individualised and targeted approach. I recall the need to make the Youth Guarantee more inclusive and to avoid any form of discrimination. I therefore insist for the strengthening of the financing of the Youth Guarantee. I join my colleagues in deploring the fact that that the European Council significantly reduced the amounts, which is wholly contradictory to the Union’s ambitions. I reiterated our request that Member States should invest at least 3 % of their ESF+ resources under shared management in tackling youth unemployment. I finally call upon the Commission to explore the idea of an EU web portal specifically dedicated to traineeships and apprenticeships in the EU.

 
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