Brussels, 1 February 2013
Tried and tested "Youth Guarantee" must now be applied throughout the EU
Europe's cities and regions have called on EU ministers to swiftly agree to plans to guarantee all young people up to 30 years old quality employment, education or training opportunities to boost growth and avoid creating a "lost generation". They stress that a lack of investment and proper local and regional authority involvement could seriously jeopardise the scheme’s success.
The EU's Committee of the Regions (CoR) has backed plans to offer a "Youth Guarantee" for all young Europeans which will be co-financed by EU cohesion funds. With unemployment among young people in Europe standing at 5.7 million, the European Commission was asked by the Council to propose a Youth Employment Package which included a recommendation to introduce a Youth Guarantee - an assurance that no young person up to the age of 25 will be left without employment, training or education for more than four months.
Through the adoption of a resolution today, the CoR welcomes the ambitious plans which recognise that tackling youth unemployment must take centre stage in delivering Europe 2020 – the EU's growth strategy – and fighting the crisis. It warns, however, that with the European Council set to meet in February to find an agreement on the EU budget for 2014-2020, any cuts to cohesion funding would impede the success of the scheme. The CoR's President, Ramón Luis Valcárcel (EPP/ES), will now urge EU Ministers to come to a swift agreement on the Youth Guarantee recommendation by the end of February and introduce the scheme by January 2014 at the latest.
First Vice-President of the CoR, Mercedes Bresso (PES/IT), pointed out that, 'A Youth Guarantee is a decisive measure to combat youth unemployment and its catastrophic economic but also social repercussions across the EU. Such a Guarantee has proved its worth in several EU Member States, so there is no reason to delay its implementation throughout Europe. The CoR fully supports its introduction in the firm belief that it will be an effective instrument for boosting youth employment and relaunching growth'. President of the CoR's European Alliance Group and Member of Kose Rural Municipality Council, Dr Uno Silberg (EA/EE), agreed adding that the Youth Guarantee was a first step towards addressing the unacceptably high levels of unemployment in Member States and said he hoped the Irish EU Presidency would come to an agreement on the issue as quickly as possible.
Markku Markkula (EPP/FI), Member of the Espoo City Council, welcomed the European Commission's Youth Guarantee proposal which focuses on offering concrete actions. He said, "I want to encourage local and regional authorities to take on board the most innovative new opportunities to support youth employment and share them through the Committee of the Regions all around the EU". Markkula added that it was his intention to include parts of the Youth Guarantee resolution to his opinion on "Closing the Innovation Divide" requested by the Irish EU Presidency.
The CoR also highlights the need to fully engage cities and regions in delivering the scheme given that they are best placed to assess local employment markets and tailor programmes for young people. It therefore welcomes the Commission's partnership-based approach in implementing the programme but emphasises the importance of involving all relevant stakeholders, including local and regional authorities, from the very beginning. It further argues that future cohesion policy Partnership Agreements sufficiently address “youth unemployment in general” and “Youth Guarantee schemes in particular”, by using the European Social Fund to implement good practices already taking in place in some EU countries.
In contrast to the original Commission's proposals, the CoR suggests that the Youth Guarantee Schemes be extended to recent graduates up to the age of 30 to account for the widely differing educational systems across Member States, often organised and funded at the regional level. It also points to the need to complement the Youth Guarantee with supportive measures that should imperatively include language skills, as well as practical work experience, which will increase employability and mobility of young people. In this respect, the CoR expresses its support for a European Professional Card and the recognition across the EU of traineeships which form part of the development for a regulated profession, paid or otherwise. Given that youth mobility schemes cross borders, the CoR calls upon the EU to better support inter-regional cooperation giving special attention to Member States under severe budgetary constraints and regions with specific geographical features such as rural, outermost and sparsely populated areas and islands.
The Committee of the Regions
The Committee of the Regions is the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. The mission of its 344 members from all 27 EU Member States is to involve regional and local authorities and the communities they represent in the EU's decision-making process and to inform them about EU policies. The European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council are obliged to consult the Committee in policy areas affecting regions and cities. It can appeal to the EU Court of Justice if its rights are infringed or it believes that an EU law infringes the subsidiarity principle or fails to respect regional or local powers.
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