June 28th, 2013
09:00 PM GMT
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By Nina dos Santos, CNN

A grey day in Brussels provided an apt backdrop for addressing the bleak job prospects facing Europe’s younger generations.

With a quarter of their 16 to 25-year-olds out of work, youth unemployment has become one of the most pressing issues facing EU leaders today.

Among the potential solutions tabled was using the European Investment Bank as a mechanism for providing small businesses with loans, so they can hire.

Job and training guarantee schemes were also agreed by member states as well as a plan to roll out 6 billion euros ($7.8  billion) to the hardest hit countries like Greece and Spain where more than half of the young workforce is standing idle.

But the funds committed so far are a drop in the ocean compared to the size of the problem.

And unless the initiatives are backed up by complementary policies in individual nations, the EU’s June summit is likely to deliver patchy results.

Youth unemployment is a tricky subject, especially for the EU which was partly conceived to ensure free movement of labor, goods and services.

Without growth it’s hard to see companies hiring at the moment.

But even when the economy improves there’s no guarantee the region’s so-called lost generation will get on the job ladder either.

Studies by the International Labour Organization have shown those who have trouble finding work initially often end up stuck with lower wages for years to come as they give up on their dream and settle for a different career.

Speaking on the sidelines of the summit, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said he reckoned at least half of the EU funds agreed will be directed towards Greece, Spain and Italy where the issue is more acute.

Whilst, throwing money at the problem may alleviate the symptoms, it won’t necessarily provide a cure.

EU Employment Commissioner Lazlo Andor says ‘there is no silver bullet’ for the region’s jobless problem. And he’s right. It’s up to each member state - not the commission - to create the conditions for hiring.

Yet Brussels is paying the price for its obsession with austerity.

After demanding cuts in the age of austerity, politicians didn’t seem to realize they’d have to support the private sector to provide jobs for people left unemployed in the public sector.

Cutting red tape for businesses and covering employers’ social security contributions would be one way of encouraging firms to take on staff, as Lithuania has learned.

Such measures helped the Baltic state to slash its under-25 jobless tally by 4%, the most anywhere in the EU.

Yet just as the EU tries to tackle a sorely neglected subject, its unemployment numbers are set to swell again, as Croatia - with 51% youth unemployment - joins the club.

A reminder for Europe’s leader there’s much work to be done – even as 7.5 million of their young have none.

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Filed under: BusinessEuropean UnionRecession

soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Jean-Francois Morf

    For saving the bank shareholders in 2008, governments over-indebted themselves 13 Tera$, and central banks created 5 tera$ for giving them to the banksters...
    Then, 2010, the anglo-saxon banksters said to the PIIGS governments: you are over-indebted, pooh!
    So the PIIGS states are now ruined, because of the anglo-saxon self fulfilling prophecy PIIGS... (invented 2010)
    But the Rothschild are now richer then ever, having created 100 millions more new poor worldwide...
    Now Europa will over-endebt 8 Giga$ more for making something for the lost generation!
    18 tera$ for the banksters, 8 Giga$ for the lost generation, 1/2 Peta$ for the Rothschild...
    Google: 500 trillion $ Rothschild...

    June 28, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
  2. wanda cody

    Oh boy the future will be exciting for a lot of reasons.

    June 28, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
  3. Tariff China or We are all doomed

    It's China's wealth drain machine. they don't just trade like we do. Their government deliberately targets industries in other countries for destruction, and destroys them. Leaving the other country jobless, and dependent on cheaper Chinese made goods. Which ensures the next industry will not be able to stop its demise either.

    June 29, 2013 at 12:57 am |
  4. Laowai

    I think they call it the "Wu-ma-r" Strategy. You can either sink to our level until you go bankrupt or your can join us by marrying into our family.

    June 29, 2013 at 2:00 am |
  5. D Martinez

    Globalisation has left no manufacturing in western nations, imports from China have undercut production to collapse, immigration is not in check and the worlds poor has replaced home grown workers whilst large companies increase profits for a few, resources are being handed out to the Chinese so they can increase jobs for their own people and small businesses who are the mainstay of employment in most countries have been ignored.

    June 29, 2013 at 3:47 am |
  6. K

    I don't know about Italy,Spain or Portugal but in Greece THERE ARE JOBS for the youth. They just don't want them! In the agricultural sector farmers are looking to hire young Greeks and provide them with insurance but the young Greeks prefer to live with their parents and drink coffee at their local coffee shop. Come to Greece everyone and you will see that everyday the beach is full of young "unemployed" people and every night these people (after their afternoon coffee) spend their money at the local clubs. I prefer to call this generation of Greeks the spoiled generation.

    June 29, 2013 at 10:25 am |
  7. tax

    more going on then in america, they wont even admit there is a problem it wont hit till we are already wandering the streets...oh wait

    June 29, 2013 at 11:30 am |

    I know what these people are going through. I've been there. I was offered a wonderful opportunity three years ago and never looked back since then. I would like to help anyone looking for a stable future.

    June 29, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
  9. Amey

    Europe's lost generation should count themselves lucky for having the education that they could use to create their own jobs?
    Seems everyone wants to work for a company or the government? How about using the skills learned to create?
    Here in Africa we look at what we can do for ourself rather? Maybe a mind shift is needed?

    June 29, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
  10. Dave

    We were just discussing how an expensive training monopoly in the UK is blocking efforts to set up an economical training school for youngsters wanting to get into the construction industry. We will set up the training school on a different continent.

    Less bureaucracy, protectionism and meaningless regulation with allow us to train and develop a new generation of craftsmen. Just not in Europe.

    June 30, 2013 at 7:39 am |
  11. brian028

    The root problem here is the Chinese dumping cheap goods on every country out there. Its happening everywhere. They had a Chinese trade mission here in North Africa near my home. Wife and I went to it and its just cheap garbage being peddled. Locals were touting it as a great thing. I made the comment in English that you do not need this kind of help here that it will kill local industry to the wife. The Chinese woman selling her goods got into an big tussle with me about me being anti Chinese. In the end I told her that this kind of trade does not benefit anyone other than Chinese.

    June 30, 2013 at 11:32 am |
  12. Nadia

    Our company is looking to hire Spanish IT Engineers who are willing to work in Germany. However, we are not sure of how to reach the Spanish employee market. Any tips on how we could get in touch with Spanish Engineers?

    July 1, 2013 at 8:32 am |
  13. geodude2

    The big elephant in the room that no reporter is willing to address is "WHAT DEGREE ARE THESE PEOPLE GRADUATING WITH? A college education is an investment which must be made carefully. Students should do research and go into fields in high demand like engineering and other sciences. I chose carefully, study my ass off while marketing and business majors are partying, so that I will l not find myself in this situation. Reporters should tell the whole story, not just one side that makes everyone a victing.

    July 3, 2013 at 6:15 am |
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    July 3, 2013 at 6:23 am |
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    July 3, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  16. alex

    i just want to react to "k"'s comment saying that in greece there are jobs and young people are having coffees: i understand where you are coming from, but i object: i am also from greece, belong to that young generation, and i had to move all the way to germany to get a job. and i dont know where you see jobs in agriculture and what kind of a salary they would pay (not to mention insurance or anything like that!). Also, more than half of those people you see having coffees and living with their parents have 2 or even 3 university degrees, and still hope that they will find a job at least remotely relevant to what they studied. i have spent about a third of my life so far studying (and paying for it) and would refuse to go work in a farm gathering cotton, living in the middle of nowhere and for 300 euros a month (before tax probably – and again, i am quite sure i would have NO health insurance or the likes) simply for the statistic agency to say that unemployment has gone down and for you not to make such comments! and i am sure that those 300 or 400 or 500 euros would not cover my costs to survive (let me guess: rent/month: at least 250 euros, food – cooking at home/month: 200 euros -probably living on the cheapest type of food, internet/phone/other necessities at home: 100 euros, sudden tax raids etc: what have you). so i cant really blame those youths that are still having coffees and living with their parents... i would blame them if they are not checking for alternatives (which based on my experience right now is simply to move abroad). you have to face it...right now saying that there ARE jobs...is either wrong or means nothing.

    July 4, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
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    July 6, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  19. musiclist4you

    There is no freedom of employment / establishment of corporations inside the EU, with hundreds of barriers to professions still permitted to exist inside each country. Greece is probably the worst in this case. The right to work is simply not respected, so unsurprisingly, people cannot work.
    The US should take advantage of this situation and try to absorb all these people in the EU that are thrown away by their own countries.

    July 8, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
  20. Nadia

    Do you know of spanish engineers (IT Service / Security Consultant) looking for jobs in Germany? Our Company is recruiting spanish women who are willing to work in Germany. Candidates must speak English. German is optional. http://www.axsos.de/en/career/vacancies.htm

    July 9, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  21. vistar hornbill

    EU's unemployment predicament will be on a long haul journey. Because there is absolutely no big economic growth anticipated forEU in the next 1 1/2 decades! Even if at best 3% GDP growth annually would not be enough to create jobs for these youths. Its a pity really.

    July 19, 2013 at 2:46 am |
  22. Iyobosa

    Great read. The situation is bleak to say the least. I've touched on very similar themes here, have a gander

    July 20, 2013 at 6:28 am |
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    August 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
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    SOCR? Quiet for last 8 years and just last week it became current, and started new business model. Something huge maybe?

    August 22, 2013 at 1:34 am |
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  26. BangkokPaul

    I see all the segments on all the unemployed youth, but they have degrees that give no business job skills. How does an art major make money for a company. If they want job, they should get degrees like science, mathematics or engineering. I bet most of those graduates have jobs.

    September 2, 2013 at 5:24 am |
  27. Elnino

    Unemployment is Spain is the direct result of Spain joining the Euro. A few years ago the largest source of employment in Spain was construction today it is bar which you find in every building. Everything that need to be constructed have been done and this with the membership of the euro zone is the greatest problem of Spain. Most businesses which folded up in other parts of Europe and went to Asia etc would have found favorable climate for production in Spain or Greece if these two countries have kept their old currencies. They both have nothing to offer the euro zone since they have never been producing economies anyway.
    Spaniards on the other hand spend more time taking holidays and afternoon siesta breaks than they work. What kind of economy shuts itself down midday when others are busy trading only to come back later in the evening when others have closed and say o now we are back, lets do business? Spain need to introduce a lot of reforms into their economic system and the way they do business. Banks for example needs to stay beyond 2pm because with them closed means the whole country have been shut down for the day. Shops and businesses need to stay opened through out the day just like in other parts of the world. All the shops run by the Chinese in the country are doing well while the ones run by the Spaniards are folding up because while the Chinese are serious and they stay open all day the Spaniards would rather stay closed at midday to sleep.

    September 2, 2013 at 8:57 am |
  28. NYC fitness events

    This is the scary part of the article. "But the funds committed so far are a drop in the ocean compared to the size of the problem." How did it get so bad?

    February 1, 2014 at 6:43 pm |

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