Good news! The unemployment rate in the 17 eurozone economies stabilised over the summer months and has been holding steady at a near-record 12%. The situation looks almost as bad across the rest of the EU-28, with a mere 26 million people (almost 11% of the labour force) unable to find work in August. The prospect of a “jobless recovery” (with economic growth returning on paper but with jobless levels remaining stubbornly high) is looking increasingly likely. So… not really such good news, then.

One of the most pressing challenges facing Europe today is the need to create jobs and get more people working. Carolina from Portugal recently sent us in a video question asking how we can tackle unemployment (particularly youth unemployment) whilst simultaneously mending strained relations between northern and southern Europe. We interviewed a smörgåsbord of policy-makers from across the political spectrum to see what they thought.

Firstly, we spoke to Evy Christofilopoulou, a Greek MP and deputy minister with the  social democratic Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). She would like to see a significant fiscal stimulus directed at those sectors of the economy where Europe is still competitive (culture, tourism, services, etc.).

Next, we spoke to Salvador Sedó i Alabart, a Spanish MEP aligned with the  centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament. He responded that the European Commission has already proposed some plans to tackle youth unemployment, though he admitted that Europe will still need more “structural reforms” (as well as “greater co-operation at the European level”).
Meanwhile, Ashley Fox, a British  conservative MEP, believes that any economic stimulus would be an enormous waste of taxpayers’ money. He argues that the problem is too much regulation and red tape in Europe, and the best way to grow the economy is to cut back on government spending and allow private enterprise to flourish.
Finally, Oscar Wåglund Söderström, who is State Secretary at the Swedish Ministry of EU Affairs and serves under a  liberal democratic minister, echoed some of Fox’s comments. He also argued that greater deregulation was a possible solution to the crisis, and said that it was up to individual member states to implement these measures independently (they should “do their own homework”) before a discussion takes place about further co-operation at the European level.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons – “I’ve Found the Job

Vote 2014

Voting is closed in our Debating Europe Vote 2014! The results are now in, so come and see what our readers thought!

34 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think? Does Europe need a fiscal stimulus directed at those sectors of the economy where it is still competitive (culture, tourism, services, etc.)? Or is the best way to create more jobs to cut back on government spending and allow private enterprise to flourish? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we'll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

  1. avatar
    Francesca Montemaggi

    The EU’s budget failed to invest in research and technology preferring instead to keep on subsidising farming, including industrial farming. The EU should invest in infrastructure, research, and tackle current barriers to labour movements (mobility costs, tax credits, languages) and support joint business ventures and networks of private sector enterprises. Current austerity policies have failed, especially in southern countries, causing an economic depression. Structural reform is needed, but it requires investment not cut backs.

  2. avatar
    Panagiotis Mentesidis

    The best way to create jobs in Europe is to reduce tax for Green technologies and innovative business and promote education more, we cannot compete with the labor costs in the Asian markets so we have to invest in technology even more! Also countries like Greece need a giagantic modernization programme in terms of their bureaucracy systems. Goverments in Greece, more particularly PASOK and ND have always hated innovation and new technologies. If an individual wanted to start a high tech business he/she had to go through their networks and use unorthodox methods(bribes and so on) in order to start his/her business and I am afraid this is happening now days as well and I can speak from personal experience. In addition to that most of the times after you have entered their circles, they don’t really know what you are talking about because they never cared to actually listen to you. Be careful in the European Parliament to who you talk to about matters like this.
    Innovation, Technology,Education and low taxation! I think thats the key. No tourism and deffinetely no services…Technology is the future not beach bars and museums.

  3. avatar
    Xesc Mainzer Cardell

    I’m not quite sure there is really a “private enterprise flourishment” effect to government spenditure cuts…

  4. avatar
    Steven Marcus

    teach driving free in all schools where children go and make it an obligation.driving stimulates the economy.You can go farther to get a job.you buy a car pay insurance.buy a house and buy furniture and go shopping more often..Driving is an obligation in some parts.In brroksville florida high schools it is an obligation in high school in 12th grade.Its one way to help find a job. In some parts of europe driving school is private expensive and out of reach of many without jobs.

    • avatar

      Oh yeah that’s a great idea ! Everyone buys a car and we double the amount of highways. Moreover, every citizens should be obliged to change its car every year (maybe a transitionnal measure for the poor eastern countries-let’s say two years-.

      It is obvious that no small car should be admitted and that no one could have any passenger in his car ! YEAH :D

  5. avatar
    Mirko Celii

    increase deficit and allow nations to reach full employment. Fiscal compact is a crime against humanity !

    • avatar
      Panagiotis Mentesidis

      I can see that working for the people of Europe..in terms of tourism and stuff like the US does now.and think of the politicians they might stop being lifeless robots and actually give a damn about us… :D

  6. avatar
    Pedro Celestino

    1- Not using slaves countries (like those in Asia) to the productions of goods.

    2- Reduce the labor time per week, machines can do most of the work anyway so we need to get work-time for everybody.

    3- A maximum-wage/profit would be quite helpful in stopping the over-usage of resources and the exploration of the workers too.

  7. avatar

    I was not long ago thinking of some ideas how to counter youth unemployment specifically, the idea is to encourage youth to start creating business on their own, without getting highly indebted. For example, in every country there are a lot of unused places that nobody lives in, be it Infantry stations, abandoned houses in city and whatnot. All of those places could be given (rent & tax-free) to young innovators or groups with knowledge on the similar field of expertise. That way the like minded could perhaps start working on some projects that, if successful, could lead into opening a larger business, that would potentially create new jobs.

    That’s one of few ideas I had, unfortunately I did not think of others that much, but I do believe this kind of idea could benefit the youth and help them start their own business much easier!

  8. avatar
    Pavlina Proteou

    exactly that!!! Less and efficient public sector, more innovation and enterpreunerial spirit….

  9. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    What about starting adopting the principle of reciprocal customs tariffs? We could apply the same tariffs China applies to European goods (starts on 90%) or what India applies to European drinks (150%) and so on. That way many of jobs exported to those countries would come back. And I bet they would reduce their tariffs.

  10. avatar
    Ashot Ginosyan

    European Union is to work for the development of Europe based on economic growth and price stability,,having a highly competitive social market economy aiming for full employment and social progress as said by Article 3 Treaty on the European Union..

  11. avatar
    Paul X

    “Created” jobs are meaningless, taking one persons taxes to make up a job for someone else just to make the unemployment figures look better

    The EU needs to seriously reduce all the petty and pointless red tape which costs businesses billions and prevents them employing more workers

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      But, Paul X, you appear perfectly happy to allow money of ordinary workers to be funneled through the state in order to subsidise business in the billions, the way it is, at very little, if any, benefit to the workers who pay for it. You have been sold a line and want us to go on clinging to it regardless of how that analogy has clearly failed us to the tune of complete collapse. Why was it allowed to get to this? Anyone care to elaborate?

      What we need, right across the entire European continent, is a serious rethink on who and what we are trying to achieve. For whom and for what?. For way too long we have centered on raising the status of the world rather than keeping focused on what that meant to this continent and its people. You cannot feed the world if your own people starve. It simply brings about a total collapse, as we now are experiencing.

      Why is it rampant Capitalists simply refuse to take responsibility for the economic failures their greed produces and why is it when the collapse takes place they want the working man to save their asses? At the same time telling them it is they who must face up to starvation forced on them.

      To create a plan for Europe as a whole, and that is what must be done, you have to first acknowledge how we got into this mess in the first place, and it is as it was in the thirties, brought about by our phoney ‘capitalist’ greed ridden banking system.

      Read all about it


      And once that’s digested, have the sense to realise the only way out of this boom and bust, ever increasing the billionaires wealth cycle, is to work on the principle of ‘collective enterprise.’ Without disposable income consumers cannot purchase. If consumers cannot purchase, little will be sold. If little is sold, there is no work produced manufacturing items. Which goes without saying, that if you can’t find work you won’t have money to purchase goods or food and you certainly will not be spending money in the so called ‘service industry.’ The biggest waste of money there is.

      Agriculture is paramount. It feeds us. We have to buy food even when on our last penny. And yesterday in the supermarket, what did I see? Well little to buy that originated or had grown in Europe. It all came from Africa, Israel, Brazil, the USA and so on. Now why was that? Anyone care to guess. A few small items came from Spain and one or two pieces from Holland. But that was it The store was floor to ceiling filled by the world, not floor to ceiling Europe. And the money that was circulating was being spent in the billions on buying outside ‘our European’ comfort zone.

      And likewise, if you want to actually spend on items other than food, simply everything you order on the net, or, buy in the few department stores left on the high street, where do they come from? China, Malaysia, Taiwan, and it is all, in the main, cheap, ill fitting and ill produced clap. Not worth spending the hard earned pence on. What happened to our wealth producing mentality? Well it has fled off shore, hasn’t it. Tax breaks, greed and the wonder of the businessmen our dear Paul loves to push us to save. Those same businesses didn’t do any saving of the proletariat did they? The jumped ship as quickly as the rats. and took their money off shore with them as they did.

      So get back to making products for our own markets. In every way and on every level. Re-nationalise the entire transport system as well as the utilities. We pay for it, we work for it, we must benefit from it. All of it. And bring back the unions who have teeth.

      How did Germany find it way out of dire poverty imposed on it from their demon bankers in decdes long gone? What was it they did to lift their country from the jaws of starvation way back when the world saw the previous capitalist nightmare.

      What are you afraid of? Being called names or being bullied by the money men. Simply tell them to ‘get lost.’ They are a band of twisted waste of space anyway.

  12. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris.

    Simply by investing in creating new industries, lowering the taxes on them, (as someone already said, the green industries in particular) and repatriating some of the businesses that left to go to China and similar places..

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Christos Mouzeviris
      Plus repatriate all those UK jobs exported to the likes of Poland and in a lot of cases funded by the EU.

  13. avatar
    David Fuzzey

    Easy , use the money that is wasted on the eu and its overpaid eurocrat nobodies its budget and multiple buildings and advertising to create jobs. Scrap the eu and stop wasting money on it.

  14. avatar
    Paul X

    Catherine, you manage to write considerable amount which appears to be directed at me but does not relate to anything I have said?… but I have a little free time to pass comment
    My initial post was my opinion that it is SME that create most of the employment in EU and it is these small businesses that suffer the most from excessive EU regulation and social legislation. (I wish whenever business gets mentioned people would stop going on about all the “huge capitalist enterprises” that are supposedly causing all the problems, they are the minority when it comes to wealth and employment creation but I suppose it makes better headlines)

    As an “ordinary worker” I’m no more happy for my money to be used to subsidise businesses then I am for it to be used to subsidise the bone idle to sit at home all day

    “What we need, right across the entire European continent, is a serious rethink on who and what we are trying to achieve” …. agreed 100%

    “Why is it rampant Capitalists simply refuse to take responsibility…blah blah, etc etc” – my first paragraph covers this I think

    The great depression?..I don’t need to read or “digest” it ……I already know there are many and varied factors that contributed to it not just “capitalist greed”

    “Agriculture is paramount. It feeds us”..agreed 100%

    I actually try and avoid fresh produce from supermarkets but we may just be lucky and have quite a few local farm shops in our area. But wherever I shop I always look for a made in UK option, if everybody did that then the supermarkets would start sourcing locally. They can only sell what people are happy to buy but as long as people continue to buy fruit that has travelled half way across the world or cheap chinese clothes that fall apart then the supermarkets will continue to provide them

    “What are you afraid of?”……not a lot really, but big spiders can be a bit creepy..

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      Well, Paul x, I appreciate your thoughtful response. Especially as you have so little time.

      That aside, I will address a couple of the issues you raise. First, the largest employer in the UK is the State. The NHS being the biggest employer in Europe. After the state come giant corporations of one sort or another which includes banks. Supermarkets rate very big as well. So, small businesses come quite low on the totem pole.

      And your quip on if the people buy only European or British produce the giant markets would sell it. Pleeeeese. Have you tried discussing this with them? The answers range from:

      Its’ unsustainable because the cost would increase your prices…. Lies… i go to the local producers in my area and buy far lower there than in supermarkets.

      Then its, Europe will not supply it the way we need it. The packaging, the quality the timetable we have. And so on… Also lies… What they really mean is the Europeans are not such a pushover in the blackmail stakes of, we will no longer use your produce unless you conform to our pricing, packaging requirements, delivery methods, meaning they will not easily go over to all plastic containers or get involved in the meat fiddles, etc., as they have regulations they cannot bust without the threat of losing their suppliers license. Outside of Europe they couldn’t give a hoot. You see it on the news, sweat shops and use of children as labour, which is accepted by these giants.

      I will give a small example, I loved a special German yoghurt as did Al Fayed the Harrods man, and it was imported from Germany. It flew off the shelves as soon as it was put up, but, it was packaged in glass for health and taste reasons. The particular supermarket in question, connected to the Duchy of Cornwall no less, wanted this German yoghurt supplier to change its glass containers to plastic, as that suited their depot housing better. The German company said they could not do that as their product was better suited to glass and their customers preferred it.. Supermarket decided if it would not change, it would withdraw the product, even though customers were longing for it. Many requests were made by those who loved it, on a high level as well as the lowly shopper like me. The Supermarket said no way, we will not buy unless they do as they are told. And the result, it was no longer imported as to simply supply Harrods was not cost effective for the company. So it was, in effect, banned in Britian because the top of the line market decided Germans needed taking down a peg or two After all we won the war didn’t we and they must adhere to our crassness whether they like it or not.

      That is the reality. Supermarkets hold suppliers to ransom and those outside Europe, and even some within it, will do anything rather than lose the business. They succumb to anything including adding banned substances which keep the packaged food looking as if its’ fresh for months on end. And as a side note, I already only buy produce from source, including milk I get from Daylesford straight from the cow. Not only is the taste of all my food better as a result, it is not filled with poisonous chemicals. What I get from the supermarket is simply dry items, toilet paper, soap powder and so on. Even those are made in China. What a waste of our resources.

      My point being those at the top of these chains have agendas going on in their circles other than providing the nation with its needs. They have financial, political and many hidden reasons for buying outside of Europe. Israel being the one the big players favoured above many. And we are steeped in their off cuts. Navigating around that little pusher is not easy on a busy day .

      There would have to be regulation from Europe to stop this kind of exploitation of European farmers and workers. And a barrier brought down on imports that can be, and should be, sourced in Europe, where it is easier to checked. Not only would we be healthier, we would cut the carbon footprint in half if we did this.

      Additionally, a tax that would bring the importation of Chinese goods up to the level of cost for European items. Yes, that old bogey man nobody wants to approach, as the big boys are in a cartel that threatens all kinds of retaliation should we take care of ourselves. And these dummies listen to them as they shake in fear.

      And lastly, any regulation that is lifted on small businesses is likewise lifted on the corporations. Which would enable them to get away with more duplicitous moves, and thereby enable the monsters to put more small businesses out in the cold. The high street is on the way out. The internet is taking over. And therefore more and more crap is being brought into the country under a pretense of sellers being right here in Europe. When in fact they are dealing from Hong Kong or some place in Borneo..

      Of course, the other reason the High Street is dying is women being forced to leave home and children in order to take up menial work to reduce the wage bill even further, but that is another matter.

  15. avatar
    Paul X

    A yours is also a very thoughtful post Catherine, I’m surprised at the attitude of the supermarket you describe? The up and coming retailers in the UK (I’m actually referring to Aldi & Lidls) are becoming more and more popular and I believe this is down to them having a policy of selling local produce at a reasonable price (well they do in Scotland anyway)

    And I know the NHS is the biggest employer but it does not create jobs which is what this topic is about. SME head count goes up and down with the economy and many large businesses and organisations rely on them as suppliers and service providers which is why I think they should be given a break from over regulation

  16. avatar
    Mike Chambers

    I read your article. Let’s be honest here…no-one working in the European Union has any real idea of how to solve the problem of mass unemployment across the Eurozone. Young people are moving out of Europe and taking their skills and experiences to other countries. They no longer have any faith in the European project. This is a lost generation that Europe will never recover.

    • avatar

      Smart people move to USA and ASIA
      …..their place is replaced with unskilled outsiders
      EU fail day by day

  17. avatar

    more jobs ?
    Is better to ask, why are accepted in Europe, outsiders, without qualification or skills, when are not jobs enough for Europeans
    Or why the smart and qualified Europeans pack their bags to move to the USA or ASIA that is less pain in butt about business and entrepreneurship
    EU is an utopic dream
    Is a time to wake-up
    Time is money

  18. avatar

    Smart people move to USA and ASIA
    …..their place is replaced with unskilled outsiders
    EU fail day by day

  19. avatar

    I think the best way to increase jobs and create a stable economy would be to impose huge taxes on items imported from non-eu countries and reduce taxes on EU made products and services plus a change in strategy on generation, transportation and innovativeness. Also the consolidation of all financial authorities would help in controlling national debts of individual countries.

    Innovative education and a single standard at all levels would help creating a more coherent education towards future stability.

  20. avatar

    Disbanding the Euro would be a good start. The middle class and poor have never benefitted from seeing tons of jobs disappear to low wage countries.

  21. avatar
    Morten Lund

    If I was a proffessional swimmer, and my competitors was increasingly becoming faster than me, I would investigate their training, strokes, methodes etc. Then I would try to learn. At least if my goal was to stay in the elite.

    China is kind of hard to copy, but USA is not that hard. Political integration first and foremost!

  22. avatar
    Carolina Neto Henriques

    I think a big problem nowadays is that neither EU nor the member states FEEL RESPONSIBLE for the people… The national governments blame the EU and vice-versa on a problem that was brought by both. The only way I feel unemployment will ever be tackled has to go through changing this mindset. Governments have to start acting for the people and feel responsible for them… it is completely outrageous that emigration is the only answer. And saying entrepreneurship is the answer is silly because it doesn’t work for everybody. Imagine a market filled with one or two people’s businesses. It would be insane and they wouldn’t all thrive. I don’t know what I wanted to hear when I posed this questions… but I have to say I was a little bit disappointed by the ‘politically correct’ answers..

    • avatar
      Morten Lund

      First of all I will say it is very sad the way youth unemployment is staying at a all to high level. The essens of this problem is not dealt with in years but more in decades. Second I will say that I agree with Fox a long way, but liberalism is also putting an end to eg. situations like Rockefeller and his position, in the last century.

      I think the most effective way, is that governments have to start acting for the compagnies and feel responsible for them… it is very counterproductive to not accepting cross-boarder mergers, within the EU. Here we need changes to the mindset of the people of EU. Or lets just call it patriotism. A moveable workforce is the sign of a prepared workforce.
      Entrepreneurship is the answer to a lot of questions. But you are right. Not everybody can be entrepreneurs.
      It might sound hard to not say that the government has to act for the people. The problem is that we only have the government that the compagnies pay for. Who else should pay?

      Political integration is the answer to a strong union.

  23. avatar

    Get rid of the euro/troika elite. That would be a fantastic place to start, my flag would be the first out.
    Also a great idea would be to stop plundering the koffers of the countries in the zone.
    National goverments is the only way to go. Strong competition creates innovation which in turn creates possibilities and a future for all of our young people. Billions to brussels is lost money, we need investment not a chinees democracy.
    A movable workforce , sure lets all move to one area , bad idea unfortunately. Just like the good ole usa, one state a ghetto and the other with gated communities .
    America is a bad example, because thats what they are building. A one system corporate impoverished nightmare with the wealth in the hands of 1%. Fine for some whom dont mind being like a dog chasing its own tail for the so called amorican dream.
    Youth unemployment ,foodbanks , poverty are the direct result of fed building.

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