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Brussels, 5 September 2007

Commission wants to involve young people better in society

As Europe's population grows older faster and the pool of young workers shrinks, the EU will rely more and more on its younger generation. According to a Commission analysis presented today, young people are often insufficiently prepared to take on this responsibility. One in six young Europeans still leaves school early and 4.6 million 15-24 year-olds are unemployed. The document highlights the need, at EU and national level, to invest more and earlier in youth education and health and to improve transitions from education into work. It also stresses the importance of involving young people more in civic life, as well as in society as a whole.

"As millions of young Europeans return to education at the start of the new academic year, we must redouble our efforts to create better conditions for young people to develop their skills and participate more actively in society. Young people must feel they have a genuine stake in society," said Ján Figel', EU Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth.

Vladimír Špidla, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities said: "We need to address the paradoxical situation where the EU has labour shortages on the one hand and too many young people unemployed on the other – twice the overall EU unemployment rate." He added, "we need to give more attention to creating an inclusive society in which no child and young person is left behind."

The challenges young people face when growing up have become more complex than those faced by their parents' generation. The transitions from school into a job are complicated. Half of today's jobs require high level qualifications and others demand much more varied skills than in the past. Around a quarter of European youngsters do not have the skills and abilities needed to join the labour market. In many Member States, one in three young people still remain jobless a year after leaving education.

Education and job prospects need to be improved. At the same time, volunteering activities are important in getting young people on board to play an active part in society. Better cooperation and the exchange of good practice can help to develop such activities. A recent Eurobarometer survey showed that 74% of young people believe that volunteer programmes are a good way to increase their participation in society.

The Commission today underlined, in particular, the need to invest more, and as early as possible, in young people - not only in financial terms but also in political and social terms, through families, NGOs, teachers and employers. Developing cross-cutting youth strategies must be a priority - at both EU and national level - covering a broad range of policy areas like education, employment, health, enterprise, culture, youth and sports. The Commission also called on Member States to step up efforts by:

• Reducing early school leaving and providing more early school education – starting with children in disadvantaged areas and developing accompanying measures to prevent early school leaving;

• Addressing youth issues in the EU's Growth and Jobs strategy through "flexicurity" strategies that focus on youth improving newcomers' prospects in the labour market;

• Creating better links between business and education and improving mobility. In this spirit, the launch of the Commission's pilot initiative "Your First Job Abroad" to promote the mobility of workers in the EU will be part of 2007 the EU Job Days;

• Involving young people themselves in decision-making and in the evaluation of youth-oriented policies by strengthening existing partnership between young people, their organisations and the EU institutions. This could be expressed and confirmed in the form of a declaration by the EU and Member States to develop better opportunities for young people with a commitment from young people to play an active part.

The Communication contains several other concrete proposals:

• EU report on youth to be prepared every three years with the participation of young people. It would describe and analyse the situation of young people in Europe, develop greater understanding of the issues, and intensify transversal cooperation.

• Initiative for a European quality charter on internships in 2008, to promote internships and combat abuse.

• New Health strategy which supports tailored actions for young people, currently under preparation

• Consultation and impact assessment on voluntary activities, to prepare a further initiative aimed at lifting obstacles and at better recognition of skills acquired through volunteering.

• Analysis of national practices regarding access of young people to culture, with a view to facilitating such access.

Today's Communication is accompanied by two papers from the Commission on youth employment and on voluntary activities of young people. The employment paper provides for the first time an analysis of the employment situation of young people 15 to 30 in the EU-27 and includes a detailed statistical annex. The second report is an analytical overview of national policies on youth voluntary activities based on reports from Member States.

The Communication draws on consultation with the European Youth Forum undertaken by the Commission and will serve as a basis for future development of youth policy coordination in the EU. Commissioners Figel' and Špidla will present the document to young people on 16 September at a youth event in Lisbon largely dedicated to this initiative.
For more information see:
Background: Study on Policy Measures concerning disadvantaged youth:
European Employment Observatory Review Autumn 2005 on youth employment:

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