Today, the European Commission adopted a Communication that highlights the main achievements of the Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) since their launch in 2013 and draws lessons on how to improve the EU and national efforts on deploying national Youth Guarantee schemes. Last year, this Commission took measures to accelerate the implementation of the Youth Guarantee by increasing the pre-financing of the Youth Employment Initiative. In his State of the Union speech of 14 September 2016, President Juncker stressed his commitment to “continue to roll out the Youth Guarantee across Europe, improving the skillset of Europeans and reaching out to the regions and young people most in need."
Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, said: "The Youth Guarantee is now a reality across Europe and the financial support the EU delivers will be crucial to continue to support Member States in helping to get young people back into work or into education. Young people are our future and it is our shared responsibility to give each and every one of them an opportunity to succeed on the labour market".
Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, commented: "The measures and reforms implemented under the Youth Guarantee have made a difference in the lives of more than 9 million young people. The Youth Guarantee has supported important reforms to countries' educational systems, employment services, and partnerships to deliver better opportunities for young people. I am confident that with continued political commitment, sufficient resources and strong resolve, we will reap the benefits of the work carried out so far and have the results we are all striving for. Therefore the Commission has recently proposed to increase budget resources for the Youth Employment Initiative until 2020."
The Youth Guarantee is a political commitment taken by all EU Member States in the form of a Council recommendation of April 2013, following a proposal from the Commission,
to give every 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. The Youth Employment Initiative is the main EU funding programme initiated at the same time to facilitate the roll-out of the Youth Guarantee and give particular support to regions where youth unemployment rate is over 25%. All Member States are also making use of their share of the European Social Fund (ESF) to support youth employment.
The Communication adopted today reports on progress so far and shows that although youth unemployment remains a key concern in many Member States, young people's labour market performance in the EU has overall surpassed expectations since 2013. There are 1.4 million less young unemployed in the EU since 2013 and 900,000 less young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs).
These encouraging trends suggest that the Youth Guarantee, backed up by the Youth Employment Initiative, has helped make a difference on the ground. Around 9 million young people took up an offer, the majority of which were offers of employment.Moreover, the Youth Guarantee has been a catalyst for policy change, leading to structural reforms and policy innovation across Member States.
The Youth Employment Initiative, a €6.4 billion targeted financial source mobilised at EU level, has been central to the swift set-up of national Youth Guarantee schemes and has provided direct support to over 1.4 million young NEETs living in those regions most in need. The 30% increase by the Commission in advance payments of the Initiative in 2015 to the eligible Member States - amounting to around €1 billion - played a significant role to provide readily available cash liquidity, allowing to speed up the launch of measures on the ground.
Given this progress, the Commission has recently proposed to extend the budget resources of the Youth Employment Initiative and provide an additional €1 billion to the YEI specific budget allocation, matched by €1 billion from the European Social Fund. These €2 billion could make it possible to support around 1 million more young people until 2020 in the Member States most affected by youth unemployment. These measures come on top of financial allocations available under the ESF.
The Communication adopted today underlines the need to accelerate and broaden the Youth Guarantee, and to speed up the implementation of the YEI. It recognises that more efforts need to be made to support "hard-to-reach" young people: youngsters who are not registered with the public employment services, are low-skilled, have dropped out of school, and face multiple barriers to entering the labour markets (such as poverty, social exclusion, disability and discrimination). In parallel, the quality of the offers and services provided to young people can be improved.
The Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative were adopted in 2013 to support Member States' efforts to fight youth unemployment and are part of a broader policy agenda geared towards the inclusion of young people in society.
As President Juncker stated in his State of the Union on 14 September 2016: “I cannot and will not accept that Europe is and remains the continent of youth unemployment. I cannot and will not accept that the millennials, Generation Y, might be the first generation in 70 years to be poorer than their parents.[…] We will continue to roll out the Youth Guarantee across Europe, improving the skillset of Europeans and reaching out to the regions and young people most in need.”
As identified in the 2016 Letter of Intent, the Commission intends to step up its efforts in support of youth more generally, and the Youth Guarantee instruments should play their full role as part of a broader set of youth initiatives. For instance, the establishment of a European Solidarity Corps was announced by President Juncker during his State of the Union speech on 14 September 2016. The Corps will be rooted in the core EU values of engagement and solidarity and will offer socially-minded young people under 30, benefitting from the Youth Guarantee or not, the opportunity to help and support others and acquire new skills and experience, either in their home country or in another Member State. The Commission will present its ideas by the end of the year.
The Youth Guarantee Recommendation was adopted by the EU's Council of Ministers on 22 April 2013 (see MEMO/13/152) on the basis of a proposal made by the Commission in December 2012 (see IP/12/1311 and MEMO/12/938) and was endorsed by the June 2013 European Council.
All 28 Member States have submitted Youth Guarantee Implementation Plans and have taken action to set up their Youth Guarantee schemes. These Plans identify steps to be taken to implement the Youth Guarantee, outlining the timeframe for key reforms and measures, the roles of public authorities and other partners, and how it will be financed (details available here). Implementation of national Youth Guarantee schemes is monitored by the Commission within the framework of the European Semester.
The Youth Employment Initiative was launched in 2013 to provide targeted support to young people aged below 25 and living in regions where youth unemployment was higher than 25% in 2012. The YEI is one of the main EU financial resources to support the implementation of Youth Guarantee schemes. Currently 20 MS are eligible for YEI support.
The YEI was initially created as a €6.4 billion dedicated resource to be spent during 2014-18. In the context of the mid-term review of the EU 2014-20 budget, the Commission proposed to further boost the YEI specific allocation by an additional €1 billion, matched by €1 billion from the European Social Fund, thus a €2 billion overall increase in YEI resources until 2020, which brings them to €8.4 billion since the launch of the Initiative in 2013. Next to that, thanks to increased cohesion policy allocations as from 2017, several YEI-eligible Member States will have the possibility to invest up to €2 billion more of ESF funding in youth employment measures.
The YEI is complementary to other actions undertaken at national level, including those with ESF support. The ESF can reach out beyond individuals and can help reform employment, education and training institutions and services. The ESF 2014-20 invests €6.3 billion directly in youth employment measures and around €27 billion in education measures and reforms.
In 2013, EU Heads of State or Government called on the Commission to 'report in 2016 on the implementation of the "Youth Guarantee" and on the operation of the YEI', which this Communication follows up on.
For more information
Youth Employment Initiative funding map
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