One billion euros eyed for EU youth employment

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European Union (EU) members of parliament debated the latest plan to make 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion) in Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) funding available in 2015 with European Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen on Wednesday morning.

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A majority of speakers backed the idea of speeding up the delivery of funding for projects to fight youth unemployment. EU unemployment has reached 7.5 million, with the worst-hit regions, especially in southern Europe, with up to 50 percent of 15-24 year olds being unemployed.

Some speakers expressed concern about the capacity of EU member states to use the funds efficiently and help create long-term quality jobs, rather than spending them on “quick fix” temporary solutions.

EU member states are implementing “Youth Guarantee,” measures designed to reduce youth unemployment by accelerating the transition from school to work. YEI funding tops up European Social Fund (ESF) money in member states with regions where youth unemployment exceeds 25 percent. The new front-loading plan could deliver a thirty-fold increase – from present 1 percent to up to 30 percent – in the funding made available for EU member states in 2015 to support their efforts to get 650,000 young people into work.

Thyssen explained that front-loading of the one billion euros, or one-third of the total for 2014-2020 into this year is necessary, because YEI schemes have been slow to take off since 2013. She promised strict checks and assessment of projects and said that this measure would not affect either budget allocations or payments from other funds.

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