Summer sales: 50% off for young people...oh hang on!
It’s that time of the year: the sun is shining over Brussels, holidays are on the horizon, and summer sales have started. This time, there’s even an incredible 50% off for young people!
We all like a good sale. But hold on. This will not be a discount that benefits young people. In fact, this cutback is going to have a direct impact on young people’s access to education, social inclusion and employment. Not exactly the bargain we were hoping for.
How come, you may ask? Well, as you may know, the European Commission recently published its proposal for the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) that covers investment in these key areas for young people. The proposal includes a requirement that all EU Member States with a above average rate of NEETs (those who are not in Education, Employment, or Training), to earmark resources to tackle youth unemployment, including by implementing the Youth Guarantee.
Now, earmarking is a good first step. Clearly the European Union is well aware that youth unemployment is still an issue in Europe and must be tackled under the next budget of the European Union (2021-2027). The key question is: is earmarking enough? The short answer is: no, it isn’t.
How did we come to this conclusion? Under the current EU budget, the Youth Employment Initiative, together with the European Social Fund provide €8.8 billion to 20 Member States (and regions) where youth unemployment is particularly high (check here how your country is doing!). In the next EU budget, if things don’t change during the negotiations that will keep us all busy for the next couple of years, much less will be invested in supporting young people to enter the labour market. And by much less, we mean pretty much half of what is invested now.
According to our analysis, only around 9 Member States will have an obligation to invest in young people, for a total of €4.3 billion. Find our in-depth analysis here.
While it is true that the Youth Employment Initiative was an emergency measure to face the immediate consequences of the economic and financial crisis, youth unemployment is still more than the double the EU average for the overall population, with significant differences at national level. It is very important, therefore, that it remains a key priority in the next EU budget too. We ask the EU to increase investment in youth employment to at least €23 billion, in parallel with increased support through national budgets.
The next few months and years will be crucial for the future of Europe, and young people have a key role to play: we are ready to help Europe to achieve the change it needs, but if we are asked to invest in Europe, then we demand that Europe invests in us.
Policy Paper An investment in Europe's Youth (adopted at COMEM April 2018)
Statement EU will invest in youth, however not all youth (2 May 2018)
Press release Bigger and better youth programmes? European Commission, you can do more! (30 May 2018)
Statement EU budget raises questions on inclusion & accessibility for youth (6 June 2018)