Where there's a will there's a way, says an old proverb, which may be used to understand the proposal made by the EU Commission this week on the practical implementation of the Youth Employment Initiative. The European Council proposed this Initiative at its meeting held on 7 and 8 February 2013. EUR 6 billion will be made available for the Initiative for the period 2014-2020. The Commission has now put forward the required financing proposal so that European funds may already be used by 1.1.2014 e.g. for the Youth Guarantee. Unfortunately, we have to call to mind a small downer: the European Youth Guarantee is based on voluntariness; no Member State is forced to implement it.
Implementation of the Youth Guarantee is part of the Employment Initiative

The Youth Employment Initiative shall primarily benefit those who have neither a vocational training place nor a job and who live in regions of the Union, where Youth unemployment was above 25 % in 2012. At the centre is the integration of young people into the labour market. In particular, the implementation of the Youth Guarantee will play a large role here. Member States shall ensure within the scope of the Youth Guarantee that young people aged up to 25 will receive a good quality offer of employment, the opportunity of continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed. Austria has played a pioneering role with regard to the Youth Guarantee and remains a popular often cited example.

EUR 6 billion shall come from a dedicated budget line and the European Social Fund

It is certain that the Employment Initiative shall be financed from the cohesion policy of the EU, whereby EUR 3 billion shall come from target investments of the European Social Fund (ESF) and EUR 3 billion from a dedicated budget line. What is, however, interesting is the fact that no measures supported by the Initiative will be aimed at systems or structures, but on individuals without a job or a vocational training place. Hence, the Initiative will complement those measures, which, with a view to the introduction or implementation of Youth Guarantee systems, have already been taken at national level – also with the support of the ESF. The coming weeks or months will show whether the prompt action taken by the Commission will indeed bear fruit and whether the Member States will put the necessary initiative in place to ensure that the EU-wide youth unemployment rate of currently 23.6 % will soon be a thing of the past.

Further information:

Communication from the Commission on Youth Employment Initiative