British Labour party wants EU youth jobs guarantee
by Daniel Mason
The European Union should guarantee young people a job, training or a place in further education to tackle the continent's worsening youth unemployment crisis, a senior British Labour party MEP has said.
Glenis Willmott, in a speech at the party's annual conference in Manchester today, pinned the blame for austerity on the "dogma" of past and present conservative governments around Europe.
"Across our continent, young people are being left behind as never before," said Willmott, the Labour leader in the European Parliament. "One in two Greeks and Spaniards are jobless. One in three young Italians, Portuguese and Bulgarians. And here in Britain, youth unemployment has reached over one million."
Data published today by Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, put youth unemployment in Greece at 55.4 per cent, in Spain at 52.9 per cent, and across the eurozone at 22.8 per cent – and Willmott warned that they were "fast becoming Europe's lost generation" whose economic and social development would be "severely stunted".
She said that they were "paying the price for the recklessness of the global financial elites and the failed policies of their governments" and that "without urgent action, the scars these young people bear will only deepen".
Willmott added that they would face "decades of reduced employment and lower earnings". She said Labour wanted the EU to introduce a Youth Jobs Guarantee so that every young person in long-term unemployment was offered a job, training, or enrolled in further education.
The scheme would be paid for using €10bn of unused European Social Funds, she told the conference. She said Labour MEPs would push for detailed proposals to be made by the end of this year and that a conference would be held in the United Kingdom in December to discuss other ways to help Europe's jobless youth.
"It matters to the individuals whose lives and prospects are blighted. It matters to the thousands of parents up and down the country who fear for their children's future. It matters to the European governments currently picking up the €2bn it costs for youth unemployment each and every week. And it matters to the future of our continent."
Referring to British Prime Minster David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, she said: "The Europe we see today is the CaMerKozy Europe: the child of the right-wing dogmatists that dominate national governments across our continent. It is their Europe of austerity. Their Europe of unemployment. Their Europe of political stagnation."
She said Labour would work for a Europe of prosperity, fairness and opportunity. "This is the Europe that social democrats across the EU are calling out for. Europe doesn't have to be a bastion of austerity and unemployment. We can make a difference. We can change Europe."
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