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Brussels, 23 January 2012

Statement by President Barroso following an informal meeting with the Social Partners

"Commissioner Andor and I have met with the Social Partners ahead of next week's European Council, which will focus on jobs and growth. Our discussion centred on the challenges of youth unemployment.

Today more than five million Europeans under the age of 25 cannot find work. The Commission is determined to play its part in addressing this unacceptable reality. That determination is embodied in the Youth Opportunities Initiative we presented last month and which the Social Partners will have a key role in implementing. The initiative contains ideas for mobilising EU funding for a Youth Guarantee, for skills development and for boosting labour mobility, as well as concrete actions Member States can take to tackle this issue as part of their 2012 National Reform Programmes.

It is at the national level that decisive action to tackle youth unemployment is most urgently needed and this is why the active and constructive involvement of the Social Partners is so essential. It is of the utmost importance that Member States fully activate national mechanisms to use EU tools as effectively as possible. EU funds can still be reprogrammed to give priority to youth employment. The Commission stands ready to support these efforts in any way it can."

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