European Socialists present their action plan on youth unemployment

Alex Hern highlights the European Socialists' demands for a pan-European measure to deal with youth unemployment, which costs €16 billion to the UK each year.


The president of the Party of European Socialists, Sergei Stanishev, of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, has presented PES’ suggestion for a pan-European plan to tackle youth unemployment.

Stanishev called on the president of the Commission, José Manuel Barroso, to “back up the rhetoric”, saying:

On youth unemployment in particular, the PES is the most advanced.

We have identified €10 billion of unused EU structural funds that could be immediately used to address the scourge of youth unemployment. In the EU, every two weeks, €2 billion is lost due to youth unemployment. That is €100 billion a year. Using the €10 billion we have identified would be a very sound investment.

Just as in domestic politics, Stanishev emphasised that:

The political differences between the parties remain very clear: a centre right hard line austerity future or a progressive future based on investment

The PES wants to reinvest unused EU funds into investment programmes for growth and jobs, establishing a youth guarantee to tackle unemployment and implement a financial transaction tax without loopholes.

This is what we mean when we call for growth and jobs – not more liberalisation and more austerity. This is a practical, immediate response. If the Commission is serious about listening to people’s concerns it will give its full support to our proposals.

With over 20 per cent of 15 to 24 year olds in Bulgaria not in education, employment or training, Stanishev certainly has a great incentive to deal with youth unemployment.

But as a recent report (pdf) shows, when it comes to the cost of NEETs, the UK is suffering worse than any country other than Italy. Annually, the cost to the British economy of youth unemployment is €16.363 billion, just under one per cent of our GDP. To put that in context, the UK has had a total of 0.3 per cent GDP growth in the last six quarters.

Discussing how to deal with the problem, the Eurofound report commends the flexible new deal, scrapped by the coalition in Summer 2011, saying:

In most EU countries, a combined and coordinated approach – including provision of information, career advice and guidance, mentoring, job-search assistance and job-matching services – seems to be the most useful set of measures for smoothing school-towork transitions.

In the UK, for example, the flexible new deal programme offers young people on social benefits a customised approach involving personal advice and counselling, development of an action plan and work experience.

The replacement for the new deal, the coalition’s work programme, has not received the same praise.

Youth unemployment is an EU-wide issue, and we need an EU-wide solution.

See also:

European socialists call for regulation of the ratings agenciesAlex Hern, January 18th 2012

Cameron needs to start backing our young people and universitiesSally Hunt, January 18th 2012

Million young unemployed figure highlights enormity of the situation hitting our youthRory Weal, November 16th 2011

Cameron and Osborne want the unemployed to work for £1.78 an hourAlex Hern, November 10th 2011

Youth unemployment is still a cause for concernRichard Exell, July 22nd 2011

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