EU to spend €8 billion on tackling youth unemployment

On the first day of the European summit, prime minister Mark Rutte spoke with his European colleagues about tackling youth employment. Mr Rutte called high unemployment 'one of the EU’s most acute problems'.

The EU currently has 7.5 million under-25s without work – almost a quarter of the age group. Southern Europe is especially hard hit, but Mr Rutte stressed that it is not only a southern European problem. ‘In the EU as a whole, almost a quarter of the under-25s are jobless,’ he said. ‘And even though the Netherlands – after Germany and Austria – has one of the lowest youth unemployment rates, that’s still 137,000 young people too many.’

The European Council has therefore decided that the structural funds need to focus more closely on youth unemployment. In addition, some €8 billion from the EU budget for 2014 and 2015 are to be spent on creating more jobs for young people, and the European Investment Bank is to release €10 billion for small and medium-sized enterprises and youth employment. Mr Rutte stressed that money alone will not solve the problem. ‘We also need to reform the labour market,’ he said, ‘and learn from each other’s best experiences.’ He is therefore pleased that German chancellor Angela Merkel has called a meeting for next week to discuss the problem in more detail.