EU leaders have pledged €6bn to tackle youth unemployment through training, apprenticeships and job creation schemes between now and 2015, and to spend leftover budget funds on this thereafter. The leftover funds is forecast to raise a further €2bn euros over the seven years of the next EU budget. With 5.6m young people unemployed in the EU 27, this works out to just over €1,430 per head over the full period or €204 per head per year.
The figure has been met with scepticism and derision, branded as a PR exercise, and has overshadowed many of the other deals made in agreeing the €960bn budget to 2020. German chancellor Angela Merkel disagrees, saying that “€6bn is an impressive figure” and that a second look could be taken after two years.
However, Finnish prime minister Jyrki Katainen may have hit the nail on the head when he notes that the best way to tackle unemployment generally is to address the conditions causing unemployment first.
It's a lot of money, but of course everybody must understand that the main responsibility lies in the hands of governments, and the tools must be used or taken at the national level. European solutions can partially help, but it is not the main story.