Irish EU presidency to prioritise €6bn youth employment plan
The Irish presidency is hopeful it can get agreement on a €6 billion proposal to tackle youth unemployment in Brussels today despite concerns over the cost of the plan.
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said the youth guarantee was important to show the EU was concerned about ordinary people, and not just bankers, in dealing with the financial crisis.
The guarantee aims to give people under 25 years a job, training or education if they are out of work for more than four months. The EU has pledged €6 billion though member states, which would also have to contribute to the programme in their countries.
It was “inconceivable” that so far the EU’s only response to unemployment was brief references to it in documents drawn up by finance ministers about banking and bailouts, Ms Burton said.
“I would be hopeful we would get agreement. There is a strong desire to see the issue of unemployment come more centre stage,” she told The Irish Times.
“The EU can’t just be about bankers it also has to be about people,” she added.
Ms Burton received support for the plan at a meeting of social affairs ministers in Dublin earlier this month but now needs member states to back it officially.
Greece and Spain have youth unemployment of over 50 per cent; in Ireland the figure is over 30 per cent. There are concerns in some member states that the costs of the programme could put further strains on their budgets.
Other member states arguing for a longer time period than four months before the youth guarantee kicks in.
Austria, Finland and Luxembourg already have youth guarantees. A recent study showed the economic loss to society of youth unemployment was €153 billion.