Government leaders and labour ministers from more than 20 EU nations met yesterday in Berlin for a summit on youth unemployment hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. More than 5.6 million people under 25 are currently unable to find work in Europe, and youth unemployment in the eurozone stands at a record high of 24.4 percent. Chancellor Merkel told EU leaders at the summit that youth unemployment was now one of her priorities. “The next time we meet,” the chancellor said, “there needs to be progress.”

Critics argue that the previously agreed budget of 6 billion euros set aside to help young people find jobs was not enough, and the money will anyway become available too slowly to be effective.

We recorded a video comment from Juan from Spain recently, who blamed the problem of youth unemployment on the wider issue of austerity policies and cuts in Europe:

We took this comment to Alenka Bratušek, Prime Minister of Slovenia, and asked her to respond.

alenka-bratusekUnfortunately, I have to say that I agree with him. My political party, Pozitivna Slovenija, has been constantly warning that austerity measures alone won’t be enough and that we also need measures for growth and development. In particular, we have committed (and are already fulfilling our promise) to take care of young people.

We also had a disheartening comment sent in from Samo, who was worried about the long-term affects of unemployment on Europe’s young people.

citizen_icon_180x180Having to live with parents, who pay for food, expenses, rent? Have you any idea how humiliating this is for young people and what an overwhelming sense of being useless to the world this creates? … What will you tell them in 5 years, when the economic situation starts getting better but the generation will again be unemployable, because [they will be] too old and inexperienced (and over-educated)?

How would Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek respond? How can Europe avoid a “lost generation” of young people who are too inexperienced to be employable?

alenka-bratusekIt’s not just Europe, but also each country individually that must find measures to help young people gain employment (especially for their first job). We must improve ties between the economy and the education system, and ensure that young people start gaining work experience during their education. I can tell you that, in Slovenia, the government has already adopted legislation to decrease the amount of social contributions payable by employers, namely health and pension insurance, for young employees. This means that the cost of employing a young person has decreased by 16%. According to our estimates, this measure could result in 5,000 additional jobs for young people.

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What do YOU think? Is Europe doing enough to tackle youth unemployment? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we'll take them to policy-makers and experts for their response.

  1. avatar

    Do you think these particular legislation will improve the situation for young people in Slovenia? Because the fact is, with all the austerity measures, Slovenian employers will not take new employees – it is simply too expensive for them to hire new work force, they would rather see their current employees work harder and longer to make more profit. I am a student and I agree with Samo that it is really humiliating for young people to have no chance to start our own lives, apart from parents.

  2. avatar
    Reno Zed

    99 % of people will of curse answer no to this question without explain why.

  3. avatar
    Reno Zed

    I’m far from to be an economist but my personal opinion is that the major issue we got it’s because the globalisation. How we can compete with country that pay 200 euro/m as salary? how? we are the biggest market on earth so why we allow all this to affect our economy and lifestyle? Europe was (it’s still) a great please to live in because our view in economy and social benefit and now we are destroying everything in the name of the globalization.

  4. avatar
    Pedro Celestino

    No, there is not enough work for people, machines took to many jobs. Either we go to 20 hours work weeks with the same wage (so we all can have some) or we invest all on social jobs.

  5. avatar
    David Eaton

    What Europe should do is to ban outsourcing of certain business operations to outside of the EU (for example call centres for any type of business should be forced to be located and operated within the EU by EU citizens) while this is against Free trade it would help significantly with unemployment across the EU

  6. avatar
    Daniel Tanahatoe

    There are so many things to be done to get more opportunities for young people. One is more flexibility in the labour market. In many European countries conditions are excellent for older workers but terrible for those who come new into the labour market. A more flexible but equal situation for all workers in my opinion will help to get more young people employed in a decent way.

    Also. We shouldn’t forget entrepreneurship. Many young people have bright and creative ideas. Sometimes they just need a bit of help to get started. Europe could help there.

    Finally, the guy in the picture can’t be unemployed. Either our social system is over generous or he has a good job. His headset costs more than 200?!

  7. avatar
    David Eaton

    What Europe should do is to ban outsourcing of certain business operations to outside of the EU (for example call centres for any type of business should be forced to be located and operated within the EU by EU citizens) while this is against Free trade it would help significantly with unemployment across the EU

  8. avatar
    Florin Holban

    I have some gray spots in my view of this issue.
    Where do we place the “youth” threshold, at what age?
    The job market has been turned into a shark pit by the fact that ever more young people compete for the same job. This means highly overqualified employees for less and less payed jobs, rounding ever more demands from the ownership. It is very profitable, I agree, and it is absurd to demand that it be anything less, since the whole purpose of business is profit.
    On the other hand, some severe issues, in the blurred and gray areas are almost left to the fate, because it is very difficult to draw the line of balance between socially aware business and profit. In no case a government of any sort would come crispy clean out of a confrontation with both parties simultaneously. So it is left at the mercy of direct negotiation, since there is strong leverage from both sides.
    In the meanwhile, those who have the courage to take up an endeavor on their own mostly fail. For the same exact reasons those who prevail do.
    The same criteria that are supposed to ensure the smooth functioning of the system are filtering out primarily youth on the hunt for a job.

  9. avatar
    Limbidis Adrian

    There’s the notion that hey technology kills some jobs, but creates them in another field. This has been debunked many times.
    Reality: MORE jobs are “lost” ( i’ll come back to this in a minute ) than gained due to technological advancement. We’re reaching fast a point where there will be a handful of jobs and many willing to take them.
    IS the EU doing enough to tackle unemployment? ( not just youth but all of it )

    I think we’ve got it all wrong and we’re also looking at it in a wrong way.
    Instead of pushing people into jobs we should embrace technology, lower work time, lower work hours, ease on people.
    “Jobs” is a word that is increasingly becoming obsolete and i guarantee it if we play our cards smart the word will be relic of the past in the next 100 years.

    There are more and more people who understand the onslaught of technology cannot be stopped by “re-training” or “getting more education”.
    machines are simply BETTER and less needy than us humans. So why not embrace the trend?

    Here’s some relevant articles who touch on this topic. Granted they are US centric they can be applied to the EU too:

  10. avatar

    Wasting Europe’ s money for 6 months employing programs and then what??
    For sure this is not the key to tackle youth unemployment.
    Get your aims and your visions clear for Europeans before they quit believing in the power of European Union, as they did with their politicians.

  11. avatar

    …if we talk digital (LTE: long term evolution)
    It looks we (europe) are like south europe is to north europe, i.e., been blaming for not being organized and so on, as whole europe, which is not even an interlocutor at a bigger scenario where it looks like we’re being caught in a middle of a pacific (the ocean) summit, where Japan, Korea(s), (and why not, China) with the USA – are planning a big offensive, disregarding the citizen (land of heroes, the Pacific!) and surrended to entrepeneurship – without ethics and all kind of crazy project managements where anything goes, if money is there. Germany is undecided between to shut one’s eyes to it, keeping another eye open to the east (and colonize the south with the euro) or…
    Looks like Europe was very keen on the digital evolution, but suddenly, there is no long term strategy – even the time for no more anxiety with growth and concern in staying developed is surpassed…

  12. avatar
    Carolina Neto Henriques

    Europe is not doing enough to tackle youth and adult unemployment. As an economics, anthropology and urban studies student I got the chance to cross many different types of societal organization that didn’t work on money or had different methods for sharing workforce and wealth. One of those that marked me the most was Karl Polanyi’s theory on the 4-hours workday. He preached that if companies hired two people for four hour each to do what one does today, for 8 hours, their workers would be more focused and that position (now shared between two workers) would increase immensely on productivity. This solution also created the DOUBLE of work offers while giving people 4 extra hours a day to enjoy being with their families, to eat healthier, to practice more exercise, shop wisely, window-shop, take their kids to school, etc. So, everybody would win – the company, the workers, society. It would just have, probably a slighter raise of costs for companies, but it would pay up on the increase of productivity. I see no reason for this not to work. Of course alongside major changes had to occur, like enhancing the public health system or education system, so that a part-time salary would be enough to live on. Shouldn’t we try this? What do you think?

  13. avatar

    Abolishing the Euro will go a long way to restoring the dignity of Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece.

    But since politicians think the financial markets (and their tool the Euro) are more important than people, don’t expect anything to happen. Politicians now seem to prefer bankers above us.

    Nothing else will happen then them shoveling a bit of money around that as with most things in the EU won’t have any effect.

    Most EU policies have no added value as compared to when they would still be done by democratic national governments. Best to keep money locally rather than sending it to Brussels, allowing them to syphon off 10% and then sending it mostly straight back.

  14. avatar

    Challenging, not sure how much the state can do apart from relax labour laws to give companies less risk and/or cots regarding hiring new employees. That or youth has to accept lower wages to mitigate the risk. As long as there are more experienced employees available to take on the role (due to negative growth) it’s hard to see how the state can help.

    Perhaps more funds/support for young entrepreneurs, more business orientated education? Youth orientated only perks could have a negative effect on older employees (25-30 year old starting a mortgage and a family).

    Think Europeans perchance should start thinking less about what the state can do for them and rather what value they can offer the market.

  15. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Não ainda não esta a fazer o suficiente para combater o desemprego juvenil porque as empresas e os paises estão debaixo das medidas de auteridade pricipalmente os paises com dificuldades economicas as empresas têm uma grande carga fiscal e a juventude terá que aceitar os salários mais baixos porque estão numa formação dentro de uma empresa e também não podemos esquecer o empredeedorismo muitos jovens têm ideias criativas e os estados devem desenvolver politicas novas de apoio a criação de emprego juvenil

  16. avatar
    Edgaras Katinas

    Unfortunately, but no. The picture that I create that the EU politicians are only talking about it. I mean after every meeting the media announces that there were talks made on youth unemployment, but what’s out of it? There should be more actions made, not only talks and promises. The EU made a lot to make youth employable, but I would say that there could be done more. Hopefully in the near future. Plus, let’s not forget, that the individuals are partly to blame as well (of course not every one). I sometimes encounter youngsters who are demotivated to work and are happy to live with their parents and just ‘vegetate’. They are unskilled or too picky for jobs. My final point is that both sides haven’t made enough to tackle this huge issue.

  17. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    So far all measures were taken just to stabilize and save the banks, the banking sector and of course the euro of Europe.. These decisions were taken and implemented rather quickly.. When it comes to tackling youth unemployment it took them 3 years to do something about it and let’s see how quickly or how well they will implement the laws they decided on… But can I ask a question? Will after all this austerity we have an equal Europe? If the Greeks are forced to work for 400 € per month, will companies move over there to invest and when they do, will we see salary harmonization across the EU within a decade? Because I do not want to live in an EU that a Luxembourgian will receive 1,300 € while a Greek 500€ and an Bulgarian 200 € for doing the same job, with the same qualifications and in the case of the first two with the same currency and having to pay the same prices for basic goods.. Europe’s leaders are happy to shake up and conform the peripheral economies, will they do the same when the time is needed for the core ones? Or do we have to accept that Europe will be an even unequal place to live? If the Troika demanded drastic salary cuts in the worse crisis hit countries, will the EU Commission demand the same from the rich nations in order to harmonize their living standards with the rest of the countries? I just wonder.. Because only then I will have the EU that I want, with full equality not a two tier union.

  18. avatar

    The Eu created youth unemployment with the removal of national borders and free movement of people. Why would any company take on and train young people when they get the ready made product from another country, Why would anyone employ an inexperienced teenager when there is an experienced European (from one of the poorer states) who is prepared to work for minimum wage ?
    The EU is the problem , not the solution. Christos has seen the problem that it is the equality of living standards and wages ,this gives an unbalanced labour market. The EU in their desire to rush the ‘one Europe’ project have messed up , they should never have taken down the borders untill we had equality. The same goes for the euro by the way which was rushed into before many of those that took it up were ready.

    So what to do ? Invest in the poorer states , create work that would keep the people at home freeing up the job markets of the richer nations and stop free movement of people , were not ready.

  19. avatar
    David Fuzzey

    the eu is doing a very good job , destroying democracy , jobs and Europe. End the eu now.

  20. avatar
    limbidis adrian

    So let me get this right.
    We want to spend billions to retrain people to basically FORCE them to get job and prop this outddated roting system.
    A job they will hate and are ALREADY unmotivated to perform.

    Unemployment isn’t a problem if we cut work time.
    Money for training could go into automatization so that sad factory worker doesn’t have to toil half of his life.
    And if China wants to compete, set some draconic EU tarrifs and see their neo-feudal SLAVE economy crumble.

    Enough! Stp fighting progress!
    “Jobs” made sense 50 years ago. Now the very definition of the word becomes irrelevant.
    It’s time to grow up as a species.

  21. avatar
    Limbidis Adrian

    Also why isn’t Debating Europe”…debating Europe’s pathetic reaction to Snowden’s leaks?
    We have seen EU officials “outraged” at being spied on, and then turn 180 degrees and play to the american tune regarding mr Snowden’s asylum request.

    Is the EU an US colony now or what?
    Where is the tough talk translated into action?
    You do know this spying is done for economical advantage in the upcoming “free trade” treaty, right? Why are we going ahead with it when we know how our so called allies view us?

    There are so many more OTHER countries in this world to trade with. Maybe we should let America sink in it’s arrogance.

    • avatar
      Debating Europe

      Hi Limbidis,

      We’ve had a several people suggest this debate to us, so we plan on debating it later this week!

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      Typical over-passionate, hyper-emotional, irrational Club Med response. Just like France, your comments have made you look foolish!

  22. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    It is clear that the Club Med countries cannot manage their economies well – corruption is endemic and overly passionate/macho/irrational leaderships just dig deeper holes!

    The solution is simple, let the Northern European nations use their net contributions to set-up NEW companies in the North and then hire Club Med youth to work [cheaply?] for said companies.

  23. avatar

    @Christos Mouzeviris
    You don’t seriously expect us in Northern Europe to take massive pay cuts in order to ‘harmonize’ everything out?

    You want everything harmonized and equalled out? Maybe you should google the word ‘gleichschaltung’. I do not want anything to be ‘harmonized’ because it is always at my country’s detriment. I want us to close the border for more EU-immigrants. I don’t care that the rich and big companies like mass immigration (= cheaper labor).

    How long do we have to pay for thieving politicians incompetence like Samaras?

  24. avatar
    Galaad Wilgos

    I think Europe is doing well enough to tacke youth unemployment, as shown by such useful decisions as :

    1) the destruction of nation-states’ economy via austerity plans

    2) the creation of a huge, unregulated, borderless transatlantic market that will annihilate even more social securities

    3) directives concerning olive oil bottles.

    Pretty sure that should do the trick.

  25. avatar
    David Fuzzey

    the eu is doing a very good job , destroying democracy , jobs and Europe. End the eu now.

  26. avatar

    I think importing 5 million ‘poor’ migrants from Africa will solve the unemployment problem.

    Oh wait, sorry, I used Brussels logic there.

  27. avatar

    I’ve got a feeling, that with ever growing population of planet, and shrinking natural resources, sooner the richest of countries will become poor, than the other way around. No politicians can change it.

    And probably that’s why so many rich people on this planet continue to stash their riches without giving much to society (in terms of creating jobs, not giving away their money). They know, that sooner or later, there will be time when only those with savings will survive. Darwin must be happy in his grave.

    And nope, it’s not apocalyptic vision. It’s simple maths and reality. Hopefully it will take 100-200 years, but who knows…

  28. avatar
    Tiago Mouta

    No… Only speculation, banking comissioning, and exploitation of emerging economies…

  29. avatar

    As Einstein said ”The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them”.
    A series of decisions lead us in this problem, i am not expecting from people who created the problem to solve it. The solution is not taxes, bureaucracy and more socialism. Youth unemployment is highly explained from the lack of entrepreneurship culture and the big welfare state, which reduces the sense of emergency to find a job or to start up a company.

    For me the solution is less taxes, less bureaucracy/legislation, true implementation of the 4 freedoms. For me EU is not responsible to find me a job, i have to create a job for myself and to produce value for the society. The only thing that i need is more economic freedom.

    Please do not tax us more and if you want to provide us solutions find a different way to get money for that service. I don’t want to pay useless bureaucrats to provide me useless solutions.

  30. avatar
    Nuno Roberto

    Doing enough? What have they done so far? Demand the payment of interests? This surely is a joke…

  31. avatar
    Teodorescu Dragos

    Since 2007 when Romania became a member of EU, everything is the same, probably is the same in every other member of EU as it was 5-6 years ago. On a background of conservatorism, nothing will change, and step by step every young person is going to lose it`s faith and optimism. ( EU, please allow to the young students to have a word in every meeting from Bruxelles! How`s that an old and very rich European Parliamentary can know how fresh graduates students are struggle for a job, and guess what? Most of them can not find one.)

  32. avatar
    Hrvoje Antunović

    Generation 1940s, and 1950s destroyed European youth. Their way of life made other, specially younger European generations, “the lost generation”.
    Generation from 1940s and 1950s could very easy to find job, and they keep them so selfish and stingy that they don’t give no one change and opportunity to try work and be better from them.
    These generations only want to destroy younger and they do it well, because younger generations are competitors for their jobs.

  33. avatar
    Andrea Tuswald

    no,its aim isnt create jobs,but a bigger market (although in the end,nobody will be able to buy something).

  34. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar


    Drop the Euro ans let the Latin countries re-adopt their own currencies at competitive exchange rates!!

  35. avatar
    Michiel Van de Peppel

    No. Not with this EU, that’s mainly trying to protect and strengthen its own political position and allowing banks and other big corporates to take over society, instead of choosing for democracy, transparency and innovation.

  36. avatar

    We all know that EU is providing some new keys to the solution of the youth unemployment. But I am wondering is that enough, are those the right solutions, are they really doing everything they can? Well, I am also pasting some main keys which were represented from EU.
    1. Communication: Working together for Europe’s young people – A call to action on youth unemployment (2013) to accelerate the implementation of the Youth Guarantee and the investment in young people, and develop EU-level tools to help EU countries and firms recruit young people.
    2. Youth Employment Initiative (2013) reinforces and accelerates measures outlined in the Youth Employment Package. It aims to support particularly young people not in education, employment or training in regions with a youth unemployment rate above 25 %.
    3. Youth Employment Package (2012) is the follow-up to the actions on youth laid out in the wider Employment Package and includes:
    – A proposal to Member States to establish a youth guarantee – adopted by the Council in April 2013
    – Second-stage consultation of EU social partners on a quality framework for traineeships
    – The European Alliance for Apprenticeships and ways to reduce obstacles to mobility for young people.
    4. Youth on the Move is a comprehensive package of policy initiatives on education and employment for young people in Europe
    Youth Opportunities Initiative (2011) includes actions to drive down youth unemployment
    Your first EURES Job aims to help young people to fill job vacancies throughout the EU.
    5. EU Skills Panorama is a EU-wide tool gathering information on skills needs, forecasting and developments in the labour market.
    6. Measures in the field of education and culture

    So what do you think, are those key actions of EU really the right way how to tackle with youth unemployment?

  37. avatar

    Give all the people without a job a job to clean the streets or doing easy stuffs and pay them with taxes of the superrich.

  38. avatar
    Christina Varveri

    No, the percentage of unemployed young people in Europe is so high that reminds us the existance of this problem every day. Alarm!

  39. avatar
    Cris Hova

    As long as companies require experience from young just promoted from schools, there is no chance for them to get hired….

  40. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Feliz dia internacional a todos os jovens da UE Não a Europa ainda não fez nada para salvaguardar o direito dos jovens ao mercado de trabalho hoje temos as taxas de desemprego juvenil alttissimas principalmente nos paises com deficuldades economicas é preciso que haja estruturas finaceiras e segurar os jovens que estão formados e os outros com programas de formação dentro das empresas e só assim eles podem voltar ao mercado de trabalho dentro dos paises com excesso de austeridade

  41. avatar
    Carolien van den Berg

    Here here Cris. And the business of unpaid internships doesn’t help to alleviate the problem at all. Companies have become so deeply risk-averse they refuse to hire anyone with a gap on their rsum, even if you’ve clearly demonstrated experience. There need to be obligations on the part of companies to construct paid apprenticeship schemes with hiring possibilities at the end; companies need laws and incentives that require or stimulate them to employ a certain percentage of inexperienced workers in their workforce- like 10% of their total employment force or something. Create real opportunities for young people. We can’t be left to fend this economic climate on our own from our parents’ basement if we never get a chance to acquire proper skills in the workplace. Startups aren’t for everyone. (Read: those of us who can’t self-teach programming skills.)

  42. avatar
    Pedro Celestino

    No it is not, but people need to remember there is no jobs for everyone, machines took most of them, that is not bad per se, but things must change regarding the distribution of resources or ownership of big things, or we need people doing stuff again, instead of machines.

  43. avatar
    Petre Cristian

    The new technology, efficiecy and multinational company reduced the chance for the younger people to take a job. The world wide is preparing the new law when is too late not before.

  44. avatar
    David Fuzzey

    the eu will sacrifice Anything to keep the euro . It also gives the undemocratic eurocrats and their federalist minions an excuse to harp on and on about more europe ans ever closer union .

  45. avatar
    Nikos Golfinopoulos

    EU must do more. Youth is future. Unemployed youth = Unemployed future. Employed youth = Employed future. EU have to boost youth inovation or else we the inovative future will be in scarce.

  46. avatar
    Yiannis Piliouras

    My main concern is the issue of experience when you apply for a job. How can a young worker who have never worked in his life, will apply for any kind of job out there?

  47. avatar

    La unión europea el mundo no ve lo que sucede en la industria. robotizacion mucha y de gran calidad .el ser humano es prescindible en muchas actividades en la cuantía de hace solo cinco años .la revolución agrícola la industrial y ahora la de el automatismo y robotizacion .menos mano de obra y mucha producción .si el problema es la demografía parece el momento de prescindir de muchos seres humanos por que asín habrá mas recursos para llegar al año 3000 o 5000 .quien se atreve a decir esto habrá otro olocausto

  48. avatar

    Thinking of the fact that Germans canceled making babies having a birthrate about 1,3 per woman,i think there are going to be plenty of jobs in the future.
    I think we have some problems with work ethic.Everony wants to be the chief,but noone the average idian.In diffrent words.All the people want to be engineers,economists and stuff but noone wants to be the assembly-line worker.
    The problem is that there are no countries with a working vocational system ,but Germany and Austria,that produce high level experienced workers.Just name the facts.A good operating firm with 100 employed people,just needs like 5 engineers and 5 economists,while 90 people do the work.The fact is that most countries that have high youth unemployment produce plenty of graduates,but noone they can give instructions to.

  49. avatar

    >>>,but Germany and Austria,that produce high level experienced

    No problem…Have no problem being assembly worker after 25 years working as comp. engineer and re-start within Austrian, German standards of payments and stability of working place. Guess people are deciding for high educational skill because of stability, desserve planned life and expect rather steady active life time. High knowledge was till the last years protection of being flexible in situations of crisis.

  50. avatar

    Actually doing my mech engineering master myself.There are some aspects that you only can learn at work.For example if you manufacture with a lathe.It s not enougth to know the theory,you need to practice this flair in your fingertips.It s a question of feeling and that kind of things you can t learn from books.You have to practice that at work to find your special method and get this special experience.
    I think that is actually the reasen why people think “made in Germany” means quality.The engineering is good but the work itself,the production is even better.

    For that i think a vocational system where theory and working practice alternate could be very progressive and would help to produce competitive products.
    Thats what i actually ment.There are jobs where you have to do”learning by doing”

  51. avatar
    Sam On

    Competition is more important than cooperation. This is really true.

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