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Procedure : 2017/2039(INI)
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Thursday, 18 January 2018 - Strasbourg
Implementation of the Youth Employment Initiative in the Member States

European Parliament resolution of 18 January 2018 on the implementation of the Youth Employment Initiative in the Member States (2017/2039(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Social Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006(1),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/779 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 amending Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013, as regards an additional initial pre-financing amount paid to operational programmes supported by the Youth Employment Initiative(2),

–  having regard to the Council Recommendation of 22 April 2013 on establishing a Youth Guarantee(3),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 4 October 2016 entitled ‘The Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative three years on’ (COM(2016)0646),

–  having regard to the European Court of Auditors’ (ECA) Special Report No 3/2015 of March 2015 entitled ‘EU Youth Guarantee: first steps taken but implementation risks ahead’,

–  having regard to the ECA Special Report No 5/2017 of March 2017 entitled ‘Youth unemployment – have EU policies made a difference? An assessment of the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 October 2017 on control of spending and monitoring of EU Youth Guarantee schemes’ cost-effectiveness(4),

–  having regard to its Policy Department for Budgetary Affairs’ in-depth analysis of 3 February 2016 entitled ‘Assessment of Youth Employment Initiative’,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 10 June 2016 for a Council Recommendation on establishing a Skills Guarantee (COM(2016)0382),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 May 2012 on the Youth Opportunities Initiative(5),

–   having regard to the Council Recommendation of 10 March 2014 on a Quality Framework for Traineeships,

–  having regard to the European Social Charter, the Additional Protocol thereto and the revised version thereof, which entered into force on 1 July 1999,

–  having regard to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 8, to ‘promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all’, which were adopted by the UN in 2015 and which apply to the whole world, including the EU,

–  having regard to the report by Jean-Claude Juncker in close cooperation with Donald Tusk, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Mario Draghi and Martin Schulz of 22 June 2015 on completing Europe’s economic and monetary union (the ‘Five Presidents’ Report’), the Commission reflection papers of 26 April 2017 on the social dimension of Europe and of 31 May 2017 on deepening the European Monetary Union, and the Commission White Paper of 1 March 2017 on the future of Europe,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 April 2017 establishing a European Pillar of Social Rights (COM(2017)0250) and Commission Recommendation (EU) 2017/761 of 26 April 2017 on the European Pillar of Social Rights(6),

–  having regard to the work and research of Eurofound, Cedefop, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), the Confederation of European Business (BusinessEurope), the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (UEAPME), the European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic Interest (CEEP), Eurocities and the European Youth Forum,

–  having regard to President Juncker’s State of the Union speech of 13 September 2017, the Roadmap for a More United, Stronger and More Democratic Union (Draft Commission Work Programme up to end 2018) and the letter of intent from the Commission to President Antonio Tajani and to Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas of 13 September 2017,

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on Budgetary Control, the Committee on Culture and Education and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0406/2017),

A.  whereas the financial and economic crisis caused the youth unemployment rate to rise from 15 % in 2008 to a peak of 24 % in early 2013, with this average rate masking huge divergences across Member States and regions; whereas youth unemployment rates in 2013 stayed close to 10 % in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands while peaking at close to or well over 40 % in Italy, Spain, Croatia and Greece;

B.  whereas measures to reduce public spending have shown a direct negative impact, in particular on young people, owing to cuts in education, training, employment creation and support services;

C.  whereas policies affecting young people have been developed without the involvement of the young people concerned and their representatives;

D.  whereas long spells of youth unemployment risk marginalising and excluding young people from society, make them feel isolated and can cause ‘scarring effects’, meaning that there is a higher probability that they will become unemployed again and face lower earnings and career prospects during their working lives; whereas the side-lining of young people represents a loss of public and private investment, leading to widespread job insecurity and skills erosion, given the unused and faltering human potential that it entails;

E.  whereas in 2012, one in three European employees were either over- or under-qualified for their jobs(7), and whereas young employees are typically more likely to be formally over-qualified, while also more likely than older workers to have jobs less matched to their skills;

F.  whereas young workers are at a higher risk of finding themselves in a position of precarious employment; whereas the odds of being in an occupation with multiple disadvantages are twice as high for workers under 25 than for workers aged 50 and over(8);

G.  whereas a successful school-to-work and inactivity-to-work transition and having a first real job empower and motivate young people, helping them develop their personal and professional skills so that they can become independent, self-confident citizens and get their careers off to a good start;

H.  whereas having peaked at 24 % in 2013, the youth unemployment rate in the EU-28 has steadily dropped, reaching below 17 % in 2017; whereas the level of youth unemployment remains high, there being just a few Member States (Austria, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Malta, Hungary and Germany) with a youth unemployment rate of less than 11 %, and there are serious disparities between the Member States;

I.  whereas an analysis of the gender breakdown of full-time and part-time work across Europe reveals that the gender gap persisted between 2007 and 2017, where men continue to make up around 60 % of 15-24-year-olds in full-time employment, while consistently accounting for around 40 % of the same age group in part-time employment;

J.  whereas regrettably, as a statistical given, the youth unemployment rate is generally about twice the average overall unemployment rate, both during periods of economic growth and during recessions;

Youth Employment Initiative and Youth Guarantee

K.  whereas on 22 April 2013, the Council, by means of a Council Recommendation, established the Youth Guarantee (YG), by which the Member States commit themselves to offering young people a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education;

L.  whereas given that many Member States have not enjoyed great success with the regulations and opportunities hitherto available in the fight against youth unemployment, they should place more emphasis on effective use of the funding and tools available under the European Social Fund (ESF);

M.  whereas in February 2013, the Council agreed to create the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), which was launched as the main EU budgetary instrument – linked to the ESF – to help Member State regions experiencing particularly high levels of youth unemployment, in particular by introducing YG schemes;

N.  whereas the YG is an EU-wide commitment, while the YEI is targeted to those Member States and regions where youth unemployment rates are above 25 %, with a total of 20 Member States either partly or totally eligible;

O.  whereas a quick mobilisation of funds was sought by frontloading the YEI budget for 2014 and 2015 in order to maximise the impact of YEI-funded measures; whereas owing to delays in implementation at national and regional level, frontloading in itself fell short as a measure; whereas in 2015, the pre-financing rate was raised conditionally from 1 % to 30 % and a majority of eligible Member States applied this measure successfully;

P.  whereas one main ambition of the YEI and YG is to reach out to those young people Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEETs), who are at the highest risk of exclusion, while taking into account that the term ‘NEETs’ covers various subgroups of young people with diverse needs;

Q.  whereas the YG is designed to achieve the sustainable integration of NEETs into the labour market by offering an individualised approach, leading to a good-quality offer and enhancing young people’s employability, while in a broader context supporting young people in the school-to-work transition and helping to address skills mismatches on the labour market; whereas appropriate outreach strategies by the Member States are necessary in this regard;

R.  whereas in 2015, the ILO estimated the cost of implementing the YG throughout the EU-28 to be EUR 45 billion; whereas the YEI for the 2014-2020 programming period was endowed with a modest budget of EUR 6,4 billion, with the aim of complementing national funding and not replacing it;

S.  whereas the Commission proposed that the YEI budget be increased by EUR 1 billion, to be matched by EUR 1 billion in ESF commitments, within the framework of the revision of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2017-2020; whereas following an agreement between Parliament and the Council, the figure was raised to EUR 1,2 billion; whereas on 5 September 2017, Parliament adopted Draft amending budget No 3/2017 in order to provide an additional EUR 500 million for the YEI in 2017, financed by the Global Margin for Commitments, while also regretting the delay in the 2017 budgetary procedure owing to the blockage and late approval by the Council of the mid-term MFF revision;

T.  whereas in its first Special Report on the YG, the ECA raised concerns about the adequacy of (both EU and national) funding of the initiative, the definition of a ‘good-quality offer’, the lack of a strategy with clear milestones and objectives, and monitoring and reporting on the results; whereas it also raised concerns about the lack of success of the application of the partnership approach, as enshrined in the Council Recommendation of 22 April 2013, in the development of the YG;

U.  whereas truly effective mechanisms are required for the discussion and resolution of difficulties experienced when implementing YG schemes, together with a strong commitment by the Member States to implementing the YG in full, taking particular account of local conditions and enabling skills enhancement, and putting in place proper, flexible evaluation structures;

V.  whereas the ECA’s Special Report on the YG identified some common criteria for what constitutes a ‘good-quality offer’, with Slovakia making its definition legally binding, covering provisions for minimum working time and sustainability of employment after cessation of YEI support, and taking into account the health status of the recipient;

W.  whereas in its recently published second Special Report on the YEI and the YG, conducted on the basis of a seven Member State sample, the ECA voiced concerns that it was difficult to access complete data and that limited progress had been made with YG implementation, with results falling short of initial expectations; whereas the YEI and the YG still represent one of the most innovative and ambitious policy responses to youth unemployment in the wake of the economic crisis, and should therefore have the continued financial and political support of EU, national and regional institutions in their delivery in the years to come;

X.  whereas the cost-effectiveness of the YEI and the ultimate goal of the YG to have young people entering sustainable employment can only be achieved if operations are properly monitored on the basis of reliable and comparable data, if programmes are result-oriented, and if adjustments are made in cases where ineffective and cost-intensive measures are detected;

Y.  whereas more efforts are required on the part of the Member States to support and target the young people furthest or entirely detached from the labour market, such as young people with disabilities;

Z.  whereas the YEI and the YG are meant to play a central role in the achievement of the key principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights;

AA.  whereas in his 2017 State of the Union speech, the President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, made no mention of the youth unemployment situation in Europe, which remains alarming; whereas the letter of intent accompanying the 2017 State of the Union speech acknowledged the role of the YG in helping to create jobs in the EU; whereas the fight against unemployment and youth unemployment in particular should remain a priority for EU action;

AB.  whereas it has been reported that young people have experienced delays in payment under YEI-funded measures, often caused by the late establishment of managing authorities or the insufficient administrative capacity of national or regional authorities;

AC.  whereas YEI and YG measures such as internships and traineeships should help to facilitate transition into the labour market and should never be a substitute for regular employment contracts;

AD.  whereas for young women in rural areas, irregular employment arrangements or the failure to register as unemployed renders statistical data imprecise and creates disparities in their pensions; whereas this practice has a negative influence on society as a whole and, in particular, on women’s well-being, other forms of social insurance, and career change or future employment opportunities;

AE.  whereas 16 million NEETs have entered YG schemes and the YEI has provided direct support to over 1,6 million young people in the EU;

AF.  whereas under the YEI, Member States have adopted more than 132 labour market measures targeting young people;

AG.  whereas 75 % of the total YEI budget has been committed and 19 % has already been invested by the Member States, making the YEI budget implementation rate the highest among the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds);

AH.  whereas several reports on YEI implementation show that despite the concerns about the adequacy of the funding and the estimates of the total investment required, the available resources are being channelled successfully to meet regional demand by targeting specific regions and groups of beneficiaries;

AI.  whereas since the introduction of the European Employment Strategy in 1997, the Commission has supported a number of measures designed to improve young people’s employment and education prospects(9); whereas since the crisis, the EU’s efforts have been focused in particular on the YG and the YEI;

AJ.  whereas the YG is financed through the ESF, national budgets and the YEI, while the YEI can finance the direct provision of jobs, apprenticeships, traineeships or continued education for the YEI target group in the eligible regions; whereas YEI intervention has no predefined duration, while the YG requires an offer to be made within four months;

AK.  whereas the YG has led to the implementation of structural reforms in the Member States, notably with a view to aligning their education and training models with the labour market so as to achieve YG objectives;

AL.  whereas external factors, such as the specific economic situation or the production model of each region, influence the achievement of the goals set out in the YG;


1.  Believes that the YG must be a first step towards the employment needs of young people; recalls that employers have an obligation to participate in the process of providing young people with accessible vocational training programmes, entry level jobs and quality internships;

2.  Stresses that the qualitative aspect of decent work for young people must never be compromised; underlines that the core labour standards and other standards related to the quality of work, such as working time, the minimum wage, social security, and occupational health and safety, must be central considerations in the efforts made;

3.  Notes the significant divergence in economic performance in terms of both economic and employment growth across the EU-28, which calls for a decisive policy response; recognises that certain Member States are lagging behind in the implementation of necessary structural reforms; notes that it is sound economic policies, as well as employment and investment policies, which are ultimately a Member State responsibility, that create jobs; expresses its concern about the long-term impact on the economic development of regions that are experiencing a brain drain of highly educated people;

4.  Recalls that under the YEI implementing rules, Member States must choose between different ways of implementing the programme (as a dedicated programme, as priority axes within an existing operational programme or as part of several different priority axes); points out that given the various options for implementation and on the basis of the results obtained, an exchange of best practices is required with a view to taking them on board during future phases of the programme;

5.  Notes with concern that ECA Special Report No 5/2017 states that there is a risk that EU funding is simply replacing national funding rather than creating added value; recalls that in line with the principle of additionality, the YEI aims to complement national funding and not to replace Member States’ own policies and funding to fight youth unemployment; stresses that the YEI budget cannot and was never meant to single-handedly shoulder the ambition of providing all young people with a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education;

6.  Stresses the need for the YEI to be a driver for policy reform in particular and for better coordination in the fields of employment and education, especially in Member States experiencing high rates of youth unemployment, with a view to ensuring that those Member States introduce integrated, comprehensive and long-term approaches to tackling youth unemployment which enhance the employability of young people, give them better prospects and lead to sustainable employment, as opposed to pursuing a range of fragmented (existing) policies; considers the YEI and the YG to be powerful instruments in the fight against the social exclusion of the groups of young people that are most marginalised; believes that it is important to work towards achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy on employment, school drop-out rates and social exclusion;

7.  Recalls that in line with the Council Recommendation on establishing a Youth Guarantee, six guidelines were defined on which YG schemes were to be based: building up partnership-based approaches, early intervention and activation, supportive measures enabling labour market integration, use of Union funds, assessment and continuous improvement of the scheme, and its swift implementation; points out that according to the assessment reports, very few Member States have provided data on and full assessments of these aspects;

8.  Stresses that more should be invested in both domestic mobility and cross-border mobility in order to reduce the youth unemployment rate and address skills mismatches; calls for the supply of work and skills to be better aligned with demand by facilitating mobility between regions (including cross-border regions); recognises that the Member States must devote special attention to providing a better link between education systems and labour markets in the cross-border regions, for example by promoting education in neighbouring languages;

9.  Recalls that the high rate of youth unemployment is caused by: the effects of the global economic crisis on labour markets, early school leaving without sufficient qualifications, a lack of relevant skills and work experience, the increasing prevalence of precarious forms of short-term employment followed by periods of unemployment, limited training opportunities, and insufficient or inadequate active labour market programmes;

10.  Takes the view that the monitoring of the YEI needs to be backed up by reliable data; considers the monitoring data and results available at present insufficient to carry out an overall assessment of the implementation and results of the YEI as the main EU financing vehicle for YG schemes, in particular as a result of the initial delays in the setting up of operational programmes by Member States and the fact that they are still in the relatively early stages of implementation; insists on the need to maintain youth employment as one of the priorities of EU action; is concerned, however, at the findings of the recent ECA report on the impact of the YEI and YG as Union policies aimed at tackling youth unemployment, while bearing in mind its limited territorial and temporal scope;

11.  Takes the view that in order to be truly effective, a strategy to boost youth employment should provide for round-table discussions involving those concerned, take account of the territorial context in which it is to be implemented and provide for targeted training that meets the needs of businesses while balancing them with the aspirations and skills of young people; stresses that the same strategy should ensure high-quality training and total transparency in the allocation of funding to training agencies, including through careful monitoring of its use;

12.  Deplores the fact that the Member States have chosen to commit themselves only through the non-binding instrument of the Council Recommendation; points out that the aim of the YG is far from being achieved in many Member States;

Reaching out to the most excluded young people

13.  Notes the risk that young people with disabilities fall within the scope of neither the YEI nor the YG; calls on the Commission and the Member States to adapt their operational programmes in order to ensure that YEI and YG measures are actually accessible to all people with disabilities, providing equity of access for disabled young people and matching individual needs;

14.  Stresses that reaching out to NEETs requires strong and sustained efforts by national authorities and cross-sectoral cooperation, as NEETs are a heterogeneous group with diverse needs and skills; stresses the need, therefore, for accurate and comprehensive data on the entire NEET population, with the objective of registering them and reaching out to them more effectively, since more disaggregated data, including on a region-by-region basis, could identify which groups should be targeted and how to better tailor employment initiatives to recipients;

15.  Believes that the YG and the YEI are no substitute for using macroeconomic instruments and other policies to promote youth employment; adds that when assessing the implementation and impact of the YG, it is important to bear in mind the differing macro-economic climates and budgetary situations in the Member States; considers that a long-term structural reform programme needs to be mapped out for the YG if its duration is to be extended; stresses the clear need for more effective coordination between the different Member States;

16.  Supports the development of one-stop-shops that can ensure that all services and guidance are easily accessible, available and free of charge for young people in one location;

17.  Is concerned about initial observations which show that improvements need to be made in the registration of and outreach to all NEETs, in particular inactive NEETs and those who are proving difficult to re-integrate; calls on the Member States to establish appropriate and tailored outreach strategies to reach all NEETs and to take an integrated approach towards making more individualised assistance and services available to support young people facing multiple barriers; urges the Member States to pay special attention to the needs of vulnerable NEETs and to eliminate prejudiced and negative attitudes towards them;

18.  Stresses the need to tailor measures to local needs in order to increase their impact; calls on the Member States to implement special youth employment measures in rural areas;

19.  Calls on the Member States to rapidly improve the communication of existing support programmes available to young people, especially to the groups furthest from the labour market, through awareness‑raising campaigns, using both traditional and modern media channels such as social networks;

Ensuring the quality of offers under the Youth Employment Initiative

20.  Recognises the call to define what a ‘quality offer’ in the framework of the YEI should be; highlights the need to elaborate a comprehensive, commonly agreed definition which could take into account the work undertaken in the EMCO Committee in collaboration with the Commission, the ILO and the relevant stakeholders; points out that a good-quality offer is a multifaceted measure leading to sustainable, well-matched integration in the labour market for participants, achieved through the development of skills, and that it should match the participants’ qualification level and profile and take into account employment demand; urges the Member States to ensure that the relevant social protection, rules on working conditions and compensation levels are applied to participants; draws attention to the quality standards mentioned in the Guidance on evaluation of the Youth Employment Initiative published by the Commission in 2015, which establishes the characteristics of employment offers, their relevance to participant needs, the labour market outcomes produced by the offers and the proportion of offers not accepted or abandoned prematurely as valid indicators for the assessment of quality employment;

21.  Recalls that the ILO defines ‘decent work’ as work that is ‘productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organise and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men’, and that this minimum standard remains unmet for young people in employment;

22.  Is of the opinion that young people should also be involved in the monitoring of the quality of offers;

23.  Stresses that a quality traineeship contract must respect a quality framework offering the following guarantees: a traineeship must be governed by a written contract containing transparent information on the rights and obligations of the contracting parties, establishing concrete objectives and outlining high-quality training; a mentor or supervisor must be allocated to assess the trainee’s performance at the end of the traineeship; the traineeship must have a specific duration and limits must be set on the length of traineeships with the same employer, and the contract should have clear provisions on coverage in social security systems and remuneration;

24.  Encourages Member States to progressively update and revise their YEI operational programmes with the involvement of social partners and youth organisations in order to fine-tune their action based on the actual needs of young people and the labour market;

25.  Stresses that establishing whether the YEI budget is well spent, and whether the ultimate YEI goal of helping young unemployed people into sustainable employment is attained, can only be achieved if operations are closely and transparently monitored on the basis of reliable and comparable data, and if Member States that have made no progress are addressed in a more ambitious manner; calls on the Member States to improve monitoring, reporting and the quality of data as a matter of urgency and to guarantee that reliable and comparable data and figures on current YEI implementation are gathered and made available in a timely manner and more frequently than is required under their annual reporting obligation, as defined in Article 19(2) of the ESF Regulation; calls on the Commission to revise its guidelines on data collection in line with the recommendation of the ECA in order to minimise the risk of overstatement of results;

26.  Notes the proposals for and different types of programmes developed by Member States under the YEI; considers that in some Member States, national regulation has been vague in its objectives and approaches and unclear in its wording, and has offered a limited range of options for promoting employment; takes the view that the considerable margin of discretion and the lack of clear oversight mechanisms have occasionally led to the substitution of jobs for offers under the YEI;

27.  Is concerned about reports of the inappropriate use of YEI-funded measures, including delayed payments to young people or the abuse of internships, for example their excessive use; expresses its willingness to combat such practices; takes the view that any repeated take-up of the YG should not go against the spirit of market activation and the aim of more permanent integration into the labour market;

28.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to identify, exchange and disseminate best practices aimed at mutual policy learning and contributing to designing and implementing evidence-based policies; stresses that changes in the labour market and the digitalisation of the economy call for a new approach to youth employment policies; points out that the YEI needs to work on using effective tools to reduce youth unemployment and should not recycle ineffective employment policies;

29.  Reiterates that the Council Recommendation on establishing a Youth Guarantee considers partnership-based approaches a key issue in implementing YG schemes and reaching NEETs; calls on the Member States to pursue a partnership approach by actively identifying and involving the relevant stakeholders and to better promote the YG programme among businesses, in particular SMEs and smaller, family-run companies; stresses that evidence from Member States that had already adopted YG-like approaches prior to the programme’s introduction demonstrates that a successful stakeholder approach is important for successful implementation;

30.  Underlines the important role of youth organisations as intermediaries between young people and the public employment services (PES); encourages the Member States, in this context, to work closely with youth organisations at national, regional and local level when communicating, planning, implementing and evaluating the YEI;

31.  Stresses the importance of skilled and modernised PES in providing tailored services to NEETs; calls on the Member States, when implementing the YEI, to better coordinate their public employment services at EU level within the framework of the Public Employment Services (PES) Network; encourages the development of further synergies between public and private employment providers, businesses and education systems; encourages the widespread use of e-government to reduce red tape;

32.  Calls on the Commission to provide a country-specific estimate of the yearly cost for each Member State to implement the YG effectively, taking into consideration the ILO estimate;

33.  Stresses that it is essential to boost the number of apprenticeships available under the YG, since they account for only 4,1 % of offers accepted thus far;

Final remarks

34.  Highlights the need for a strategy to transform the YEI from an anti-crisis instrument into a more stable EU financing instrument for tackling youth unemployment in the post-2020 period, while ensuring the quick and uncomplicated deployment of funds, and which establishes a co-financing requirement in order to underline the primary responsibility of the Member States; notes that the extension of the YEI should take into account the observations of the ECA; stresses that the programme’s overall aim is the sustainable integration of young people into the labour market; highlights the need to set clear, measurable objectives; stresses that these elements should be discussed in the context of the next MFF to ensure continuity, cost-effectiveness and added value;

35.  Reiterates its support for the YEI; stresses that further efforts and continued political and financial commitments to tackle youth unemployment are absolutely necessary; recalls, in particular, the importance of ensuring funding of at least EUR 700 million for the YEI for the period 2018-2020, as agreed in the mid-term revision of the MFF; calls also for the allocation of sufficient payment appropriations to ensure the proper and timely implementation of the YEI;

36.  Emphasises the need to improve the quality of offers under the YEI and YG and calls for a future discussion about the eligible age bracket;

37.  Takes the view that for the youth employment quality framework to become operational, progress should be made towards adopting a recommendation with its legal basis in Articles 292 and 153 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and a range of information measures should be taken, such as the creation of an easily accessible website that is kept updated with relevant information on the rules governing traineeships in each Member State;

38.  Recognises that the YEI is a financial instrument meant to complement Member States’ initiatives to tackle high levels of youth unemployment and that greater efforts should be made by the Member States to provide a better link between education systems and labour markets, in order to integrate young people into the labour markets in a sustainable manner; welcomes the measures and policies in place to help to address existing skills mismatches; recognises that skills utilisation continues to present a challenge across Europe and considers it necessary, therefore, to ensure that the skills that are in demand and those on offer are better matched;

39.  Considers the YEI and the YG essential in the effective delivery of the key principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights, in particular No 1 on education, training and life-long learning; No 4 on active support to employment; No 5 on secure and adaptable employment; No 6 on wages; No 8 on social dialogue and involvement of workers; No 10 on healthy, safe and well-adapted work environment and data protection; No 12 on social protection; No 13 on unemployment benefits; and No 14 on minimum income;

40.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to redouble their joint efforts with the ILO to provide customised information and build national capacity to deliver and assess YG schemes in the following aspects: ensuring the full, sustainable implementation of the initiative, improving its ability to reach unregistered NEETs and young people with low skill levels, capacity building and improving the quality of offers;

41.  Notes that pending the release by the Commission of the final figures provided by Member States, the number of young people having completed a YEI programme at the end of 2015 was estimated at 203 000, which represents 4 % of the participants; expresses concern at the high number of YEI participants who have failed to complete the programme in some Member States; believes that it is important to strengthen incentives so as to ensure that young people consider the YEI useful;

42.  Recalls that the YEI should provide financial support for measures that foster the integration of NEETs into the labour market, including paid internships, traineeships and apprenticeships, but should not become a substitute for actual gainful employment;

43.  Suggests the establishment of an EU hotline against the violation of the rights of young people, so that young people can report any negative experience of participation in YEI and YG measures to the Commission directly, enabling the collection of information and the investigation of reports of abusive practices in the deployment of EU-funded policies;

44.  Welcomes the reference contained in the letter of intent attached to President Juncker’s 2017 State of the Union speech to a proposal to establish a European Labour Authority to strengthen cooperation between labour market authorities at all levels and better manage cross-border situations, as well as further initiatives in support of fair mobility;

45.  Recognises the success of the YEI in reducing youth unemployment rates and, in particular, ensuring gender balance, with the result that the YEI has reached around 48 % of men and 52 % of women;

46.  Calls for the full implementation in the context of the YEI of both Directive 2000/78/EC on equal treatment in employment and occupation and Directive 2010/41/EU on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity;

47.  Considers it necessary for the Commission and the Member States to come forward with positive measures to ensure that young women and girls receive good-quality offers of employment and are not employed or trapped in precarious, underpaid and temporary jobs with limited or no rights as workers;

48.  Calls on the Member States to compile gender‑disaggregated statistical data so that the Commission can launch an impact assessment of the YEI and its influence on gender balance to enable a thorough evaluation and analysis of its implementation;

49.  Calls on the Member States to find ways to support young women’s re-entry into the labour market, education or training by ensuring gender equality in access to employment, career progression, the reconciliation of work and private life, and the provision of childcare and adult care, and by promoting equal pay for female and male workers for equal work or work of equal value;

50.  Urges the Member States to invest more effort in improving measures within education systems to help young people at risk to remain protected;

51.  Notes with concern that the most recent assessment reports(10) have highlighted that during its first implementation phase, the YEI tended to focus mostly on highly educated NEETs, rather than those who are low-skilled, inactive and not registered by the PES;

52.  Calls on Member States to address this substantial shortcoming in YEI implementation by developing, inter alia, specific follow-up measures with a view to implementing more evidence-based, effective and sustained youth policies;

53.  Calls on the Member States to make sure that their legislation enables all young people within the identified age group to register and participate effectively in the YEI(11);

54.  Draws attention to the lack of regulation of traineeship offers on the open market as regards transparency of hiring, duration and recognition and points out that only a few Member States have established minimum quality criteria, including for the purposes of monitoring the YG and YEI;

55.  Recognises that EU budget investments through the YEI have made an impact and have accelerated the expansion of the labour market for young people; considers that the YEI represents clear EU added value as many youth employment schemes could not have been implemented without an EU commitment;

56.  Notes that the original financial allocation for the YEI in the 2014-2020 MFF was EUR 6,4 billion, of which EUR 3,2 billion came from a dedicated budget line, matched by the same amount from the ESF;

57.  Underlines that in the context of the mid-term revision of the MFF, an additional allocation of EUR 1,2 billion for the YEI was politically endorsed for the period 2017-2020, to be matched by the same amount from the ESF; stresses, however, that the final allocation for this programme will be determined in the upcoming annual budgetary procedures;

58.  Welcomes the fact that at Parliament’s urging, the result of the conciliation process on the 2018 EU budget was to increase the specific allocation originally proposed for the YEI by EUR 116,7 million in fresh appropriations, bringing its total to EUR 350 million in 2018; notes the unilateral commitment by the Commission to proposing a further increase in YEI funding through an amending budget should the absorption capacity of the YEI allow for an increase;

59.  Considers that the overall YEI budget is not sufficient to cover actual demand and the resources required to ensure that the programme reaches its targets; recalls that on average only 42 % of NEETs have been reached, with the figure dropping below 20 % in a number of Member States; calls, therefore, for a significant increase in the YEI allocation under the next MFF and for the Member States to make provisions for youth employment schemes in their national budgets;

60.  Calls on the Commission to ensure consistency among youth employment investments by encouraging synergies between available sources and creating homogeneous rules presented in a holistic guide, with the aim of ensuring greater impact, synergies, effectiveness and simplification on the ground; recalls the priority of reducing the administrative burden for managing authorities; highlights the importance of country-specific reports on the financing of YG schemes that also monitor the synergies between national budgets and the EU budget, as well as the need for better coordination and closer cooperation among key stakeholders in the process;

61.  Calls on the Commission to improve the planning of post-2020 youth employment investments by fully applying the approach used in programming the ESI Funds, where funding is subject to comprehensive preliminary planning and ex-ante evaluation followed by the conclusion of partnership agreements; considers that such an approach increases the impact of the EU budget; notes the successful implementation of the YEI in Member States, with dedicated operational programmes and significant contributions from national and regional budgets;

62.  Calls, moreover, on the Commission to redesign the current evaluation mechanism by focusing on unified outcome criteria and performance audits in the annual and final reporting process in order to better monitor the impact of the EU budget; calls for the EU-wide application of indicators, such as the share of YEI participants who enter the primary labour market as a result of EU-funded interventions;

63.  Stresses, however, that reformed planning and reporting should neither delay the implementation of the budget nor generate an excessive administrative burden for the managing authorities and the final beneficiaries in particular;

64.  Recognises that the existing administrative burden undermines the investment capacity of the EU budget, especially in the case of instruments with shorter implementation periods such as the YEI; calls, therefore, for streamlined tendering procedures with a focus on faster preparation of tenders and shorter decision appeal procedures; notes the positive effect of the use of simplified cost options (SCOs) in YEI expenditure; calls for the EU-wide introduction of SCOs in YEI projects in order to cut red tape significantly and accelerate budgetary implementation;

65.  Underlines that as of now the YEI is the best performing of all the ESI Funds in terms of financial implementation;

66.  Welcomes the fact that YEI measures have provided support to more than 1,6 million young people and led to Member States consolidating operations amounting to more than EUR 4 billion;

67.  Notes that a lack of information on the potential cost of implementing a scheme in a Member State can result in inadequate funding for its implementation and the achievement of its objectives; calls on the Member States to conduct an ex-ante analysis and draw up an overview of the cost of implementing the YG;

68.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take the necessary measures to set up less administratively burdensome and more up-to-date monitoring systems for the remaining YEI funding;

69.  Calls for a focus on YEI results through the definition of concrete indicators relating to new services and labour market support measures established through the programme in the Member States and the number of permanent contracts offered;

70.  Believes that in order to assess the scheme’s effectiveness, all aspects need to be evaluated, including the value for money of the scheme; takes note of previous ILO and Eurofound estimates and asks the Commission to confirm or update these projections;

71.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to set realistic and achievable goals, assess disparities, analyse the market before implementing schemes, and improve supervision and notification systems;

o   o

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

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 470.
(2) OJ L 126, 21.5.2015, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 120, 26.4.2013, p. 1.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0390.
(5) OJ C 264 E, 13.9.2013, p. 69.
(6) OJ L 113, 29.4.2017, p. 56.
(7) Commission report of December 2013 entitled ‘Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2013’.
(8) Eurofound report of August 2014 entitled ‘Occupational profiles in working conditions: Identification of groups with multiple disadvantages’.
(9) Other measures include the Youth on the Move initiative launched in September 2010, the Youth Opportunities Initiative launched in December 2011 and the Youth Action Teams initiative launched in January 2012.
(10) ECA Special Report No 5/2017 on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative; Final Report to the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission of June 2016 on first results of the Youth Employment Initiative; Commission communication of 4 October 2016 on the Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative three years on (COM(2016)0646); EPRS In-Depth Analysis of June 2016 entitled ‘Youth Employment Initiative: European Implementation Assessment’.
(11) The legislative framework of some countries defines some young people, in particular those with severe disabilities, as ‘unable to work’. They are not able to register with PES and are therefore unable to participate in the YEI.

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