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Procedure : 2012/2617(RSP)
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PV 23/05/2012 - 17

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PV 24/05/2012 - 10.5
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Thursday, 24 May 2012 - Strasbourg
Youth opportunities initiative

European Parliament resolution of 24 May 2012 on the Youth Opportunities Initiative (2012/2617(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the question of 26 April 2012 to the Commission on the Youth Opportunities Initiative (O-000106/2012 – B7-0113/2012),

–  having regard to the Conclusions of the European Council on 17 June 2010 on the Europe 2020 Strategy and its five headline targets,

–  having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘Youth Opportunities Initiative’ (COM(2011)0933),

–  having regard to the employment package entitled ‘Towards a job-rich recovery’, presented by the Commission on 18 April 2012 (COM(2012)0173),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘Single Market Act – Twelve levers to boost growth and strengthen confidence – Working together to create new growth’ (COM(2011)0206),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘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 entitled ‘Annual Growth Survey 2012’ (COM(2011)0815),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2010 on promoting youth access to the labour market, strengthening trainee, internship and apprenticeship status(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2011 on mobility and inclusion of people with disabilities and the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 March 2011 on the EU strategy on Roma inclusion(3),

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions on promoting youth employment to achieve the Europe 2020 objectives, adopted in Luxembourg on 17 June 2011,

–  having regard to the Statement of the Members of the European Council of 30 January 2012 entitled ‘Towards Growth-Friendly Consolidation and Job-Friendly Growth’,

–  having regard to the letter on youth unemployment sent by European Commission President Barroso on 31 January 2012 to eight Member States,

–  having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee Working Document (SOC)450 of 28 March 2012 on Communication COM(2011)0933 from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions,

–  having regard to Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation,

–  having regard to Articles 15, 31 and 32 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights,

–  having regard to Title XII of the TFEU,

–  having regard to Rules 115(5) and 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the European Parliament stated its position on promoting youth access to the labour market and strengthening trainee, internship and apprenticeship status in its 2010 Resolution that called upon the European Commission, the Member States, the social partners and other stakeholders, in accordance with their respective competences, inter alia, to:

   work urgently on strategies, economic and labour market policies to create more and better jobs for the young, thereby avoiding the precariousness trap of young people having a succession of temporary jobs and unpaid internships not leading to any real improvement in salary and working conditions or to more stable forms of employment;
   back up national labour market, education and training policies with a Youth Guarantee securing the right of every young person in the EU to be offered a job, an apprenticeship, additional training or combined work and training after a maximum period of 4 months' unemployment;
   intensify efforts to reduce early school-leaving and to develop reach-out strategies for young people not in employment, education or training (‘NEETs’);
   improve links between the worlds of education and work by better adjusting educational curricula to the needs of the labour market, providing quality internships offering decent wages and appropriate working conditions, introducing a European Quality Charter on Internships setting out minimum standards for internships to ensure their educational value and avoid exploitation while offering social protection, and creating more and better apprenticeships within Vocational Educational Training (VET) to facilitate young people's transition from education to employment;
   step up efforts to establish and implement a European system for the certification and recognition of formal and informal learning, thereby improving both national and cross-border labour market mobility;
   ensure inclusive policies to avoid discrimination of young people and address the needs of groups that often face specific obstacles when entering the labour market, such as young migrants, young parents, young Roma and people with a disability;

B.  whereas after a lacklustre economic recovery since 2010, unemployment is on the rise again with average unemployment reaching 10% and youth unemployment over 22% in the European Union, while economic forecasts point to a renewed period of economic stagnation with unemployment levels rising further and no prospect of a job-rich recovery any time in the near future;

C.  whereas the employment situation for young people differs significantly across Member States, with unemployment rates ranging from well below 10 % in some countries to nearly 50 % in the countries hardest hit by the crisis;

D.  whereas youth unemployment can only be tackled in a meaningful way when analysed against the wider background of the total employment situation in a Member State and the overall economic policy framework embracing the national labour market;

E.  whereas one reason for the high level of youth unemployment is the lack of new jobs;

F.  whereas the negative effects of the financial and economic crisis and especially the eurozone sovereign debt crisis in Europe have had an even more serious impact on young people, especially those who have not completed or succeeded in their compulsory or upper secondary education, those facing long-term unemployment and social exclusion, and those living in economically disadvantaged regions, and have left young people worse off than before;

G.  whereas the alarming rise in youth unemployment threatens the economic and social future of many young people in the European Union, making them pay dearly for the crisis;

H.  whereas fighting youth unemployment requires more investment in education and training in the EU;

I.  whereas effective measures involve the transfer of workers from declining industries and sectors to growing ones, driving innovation and the creation of new jobs;

J.  whereas on 17 June 2010 the European Council agreed on the Europe 2020 Strategy and five Headline Targets, including:

   ‘reducing school drop-out rates to less than 10 %’;
   ‘increasing the share of 30-34 year olds completing third level education to at least 40 %’;
   ‘aiming to raise to 75 % the employment rate for women and men aged 20-64, including through the greater participation of young people, older workers and low-skilled workers and the better integration of legal migrants’;
   ‘promoting social inclusion, in particular through the reduction of poverty, by aiming to lift at least 20 million people out of the risk of poverty and exclusion’;

K.  whereas the European Commission in its Single Market Act Communication rightly states that a further deepening of the Single Market has the potential to create the jobs and prosperity urgently needed to bring about an economic turn-around and to counter the current economic crisis;

L.  whereas the European Commission in its ‘Youth on the Move’ Communication encouraged the Member States to introduce a Youth Guarantee and consequently called on the Member States to do more to implement such guarantees;

M.  whereas during their meeting on 30 January 2012, the Members of the European Council published a statement calling on Member States to improve labour supply and reduce youth unemployment and concluded that ‘the objective should be that within a few months of leaving school, young people receive a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship, or a traineeship’;

N.  whereas on 31 January 2012 European Commission President Barroso sent letters to eight Member States experiencing youth unemployment rates significantly above the EU average, and ‘Action teams’ were sent to these Member States to develop youth employment plans;

O.  whereas common factors in these eight countries are a very high rate of school leavers and low-skilled young people seeking jobs in the labour market;

P.  whereas in May 2012 the European Commission will propose its 2012 Country-specific Recommendations, while stating in its ‘Youth Opportunities Initiative’ Communication that Member States, in particular those with the highest youth unemployment rates should, without waiting for the said Recommendations, take decisive measures to prevent early school-leaving, develop skills relevant to the labour market, support first working experience and on-the-job training and facilitate access to a (first) job;

Q.  whereas during the European Council meeting on 30 January 2012 European Commission President Barroso announced that EUR 82 billion of the structural fund budget is still to be allocated and could be redeployed;

1.  Welcomes the Commission's ‘Youth Opportunities Initiative’ Communication building on earlier Commission initiatives like ‘Youth on the Move’ and ‘New skills and new jobs’ and the many initiatives presented in this series of Communications, but has serious doubts as to whether the scale of the actions proposed is proportionate to the gravity of the current youth unemployment crises experienced in many Member States;

2.  Stresses that the employment situation of young people is highly dependent on the overall economic situation; welcomes the Commission Communication entitled ‘Towards a job-rich recovery’ and urges Heads of State or Government in the EU to present as soon as possible a European Investment Plan boosting inclusive, sustainable and job-rich growth;

3.  Welcomes the statement made by the European Council calling on the Member States to introduce national schemes akin to the Youth Guarantee, and urges the Member States to back up this plea with swift and concrete measures at national level so as to ensure that young people are either in a decent job, education or (re-) training within four months of leaving school;

4.  Welcomes the Commission's initiative to promote the Youth Guarantee initiative and to allocate EUR 4 million to Member States to help them set up Youth Guarantee schemes, which should be supported by active labour market policies helping to close the gap between education and training systems and the labour market, but has sincere doubts that this sum is ambitious enough to help countries facing high rates of unemployment coupled with national budget constraints put in place these types of guarantees;

5.  Stresses that the Youth Guarantee needs to effectively improve the situation of young people neither in employment nor in education or training and to gradually overcome the problem of youth unemployment in the EU;

6.  Welcomes the Commission's intention, as described in the communication ‘Towards a job-rich recovery’, to present a proposal for a Council Recommendation on a Quality Framework for Traineeships and a Council Recommendation on Youth Guarantees by the end of 2012 and strongly urges Member States to adopt the proposal by the end of 2012;

7.  Recognises that young people are suffering labour discrimination as regards their access to and permanence in the labour market as a consequence of their precarious situation and temporary contracts, and that this situation requires full compliance with the principle of equal treatment established by European legislation;

8.  Stresses that young mothers suffer particular discrimination in the labour market as they take career breaks due to family commitments; calls, therefore, on the Member States to strengthen work-life balance policies, especially by reinforcing the Maternity Leave Directive at EU level and by providing accessible, affordable and good quality care services for children and dependent adults;

9.  Is convinced that one effective way of bringing young people back to work is to develop systemic reforms to tackle structural unemployment;

10.  Welcomes the sense of urgency expressed by Commission President Barroso's initiative to send ‘Action teams’ to Member States recording the highest youth unemployment rates; asks the Commission to keep Parliament duly informed about the agendas and concrete outcomes of these activities; regrets that the ‘Action teams’ have only been mandated and set up by the Commission and suggests that in future the European Parliament and the Council be more closely involved in the process;

11.  Calls on the Commission to assess the impact of labour market reforms linked to the proposals made by the ‘Action teams’ on the employment rate and quality standards of employment in the Member States concerned;

12.  Invites the Commission to adopt the European quality framework regulation as soon as possible in 2012 and define minimum standards supporting the provision and take-up of high-quality traineeships;

13.  Calls on the Member States to improve the quality and awareness, and thereby the status, of vocational education and training, which is a crucial alternative to higher education;

14.  Believes that mobility and the opportunity to work in another Member State could be an important step for young people to gain better access to the labour market; appreciates therefore the expansion of the ‘Erasmus for All’ initiative and recommends that a strong emphasis be put on working experience abroad for students and young people in vocational training in this programme;

15.  Calls on the Member States to introduce and assess new binding youth targets with particular attention to quality and youth-targeted policy strategies in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy objectives to be included in their National Reform Programmes;

16.  Calls on the Commission to clearly incorporate youth unemployment in the European Semester by establishing it as a sub-target in the Europe 2020 strategy;

17.  Calls on Member States with low unemployment rates or having successfully introduced youth guarantees, such as Austria, to actively collaborate with those Member States deeply affected by youth unemployment, by transferring their know-how and successful models in order to bridge the widening gap between their unemployment rates and develop together better and more inclusive youth-targeted employment policies with a positive impact on the ground;

18.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to assess the special challenges facing young people in their access to social protection and the risk of social exclusion; calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote measures to enhance their access to social protection and remuneration;

19.  Deplores the fact that four years into the crisis EUR 82 billion of the Structural Funds budget under the 2007-2013 Financial Perspective is still to be spent; urges the Commission to prioritise redeployment of a substantial part of the EUR 82 billion towards projects for young people, and especially towards small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in order to boost decent employment opportunities for young people; calls on the Commission to consider increasing co-financing rates for the eight countries facing particularly high rates of unemployment;

20.  Calls on the Commission to look for further and more ambitious sources of financing to help Member States tackle high youth unemployment;

21.  Considers it particularly important to allocate resources to young people when drawing up the Financial Framework for the years 2014-2020, focussing particularly on young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs);

22.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that these funds are allocated with the full involvement of the social partners and youth organisations;

23.  Welcomes the Commission's proposal to promote the labour mobility of young people as part of the new Programme for Social Change and Innovation so as to encourage them to seek jobs in Member States and regions facing skills and labour shortages; calls in this context for a stronger focus on the situation of young people, especially with regard to the transition from education to employment, the reduction of early school leaving and the quality of traineeships and apprenticeships; stresses that promoting labour mobility needs to go hand in hand with better social protection and with reducing obstacles to mobility in terms of social rights and social security coverage, especially for young workers at risk;

24.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to finance mobility programmes that focus on the training and employment of young people in new areas which can enhance a job-rich recovery, particularly green jobs and jobs in the care sector for both young men and women;

25.  Calls on the Member States to introduce dual education systems for all occupations not requiring higher education, including targets for companies of a certain size to offer apprenticeships and incentives to employ young people;

26.  Calls on the Member States to develop a more coordinated strategy between national educational and training plans and labour market needs, not just in the short term but particularly in the medium and longer terms, so as to avoid the oversizing of certain sectors, to favour the development of new niche markets and to move resources from sectors that are losing jobs to developing sectors such as the sustainable economy;

27.  Encourages the adoption of a European Youth Employment Strategy supporting companies, welfare organisations, public authorities and other employers in creating decent and quality jobs;

28.  Is particularly concerned about the negative impact that the substantial budget cuts in education in some Member States will have on the difficult situation facing young people and on the implementation of the proposals in the Youth initiative; calls on the Commission to make sure that recommendations to Member States on regaining fiscal sustainability do not undermine or destroy policies and programmes aimed at promoting youth employment and social inclusion and/or preventing the marginalisation and detachment of young people from the labour market;

29.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) OJ C 351 E, 2.12.2011, p.29.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0453.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0092.

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