Proposal recommends that member states guarantee a job, apprenticeship or training within four months of leaving education to all people under the age of 25.
Employment ministers from the European Union's 27 member states, who are to meet in Brussels today (28 February), are expected to sign up to a commitment to offer a job or training to unemployed young people. The youth guarantee scheme was announced in December by László Andor, the European commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion, as part of his €30 billion youth opportunities initiative, which aims to reduce youth unemployment across the 27 member states.
The ministers are expected to agree a deal after discussing the issue at an informal meeting in Dublin earlier this month (7-8 February). Ireland, where almost one third of under-25s are out of work or education, has made getting an agreement on the scheme one of the priorities of its six-month presidency of the EU's Council of Ministers. The proposal recommends that member states guarantee a job, apprenticeship or training within four months of leaving education to all people under the age of 25. The scheme is modelled on a system introduced in Finland and would be funded by unspent money in the European Social Fund, part of the EU's budget. The Commission would provide €4million to help set up the schemes.
Officials are expecting ministers to agree to the guarantee today. Several countries, including the Netherlands and the UK, raised concerns when the scheme was first proposed, notably about its cost and about whether the four-month commitment was too constraining, but no major objections are now expected.
Across the EU more than 7m people under the age of 25 are not in employment, education or training. More than half of Greece's and Spain's young people fall into this category; more than a third in Italy, Portugal and Slovakia.
Ministers are scheduled to meet Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, for breakfast this morning before the start of the main meeting to discuss the social aspects of his plan for strengthening economic and monetary union. They will then hold a debate on the 2013 European Semester – the EU's annual cycle of economic policy co-ordination and monitoring – as their contribution to a report for leaders of member states at a European Council on 14-15 March.
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