Europe is afraid - the battle for new jobs

 
Madrid jobs queue Queuing for jobs in Madrid: Spain's crisis remains a big worry with record unemployment

Europe's leaders, rather belatedly, are recognising that youth unemployment threatens the entire European project.

At a conference in Paris on Tuesday, organised by the Berggruen Institute on Governance, fear and warnings flowed from every speech.

Jacques Attali, a French economist and former adviser to the late president Francois Mitterrand, warned of a Europe in danger of "falling asleep", of young people being excluded from a changing world.

It was a theme echoed by the French President, Francois Hollande, who spoke of a Europe wracked by doubt, wondering whether Europe has any meaning at all. He spoke about hatred and anger, with citizens turning their backs on the European project. The very idea of Europe, he said, was being challenged.

Werner Hoyer, the President of the European Investment Bank, said that unemployment posed a "real threat to the European project". It undermined the trust of a whole generation, he said.

Several leaders, including the French president, said that progress had been made in handling the eurozone crisis. The German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, agreed that, in relation to the eurozone, "I think we have done quite well". But he said this was not enough, otherwise, "we will lose the struggle for EU unity".

In this climate there is now a whole raft of ideas and schemes about how to get Europe working again. All of this is building towards a summit on 28 June, which the French Finance Minister, Pierre Moscovici, said "will be a turning point in the history of Europe".

Europe is setting itself a deadline to adopt a grand plan to address unemployment. Whether reality will match ambition is less clear.

Six billion euros has been earmarked by the European Commission to target youth unemployment. There is - under development - a youth guarantee scheme, where after four to six months without work there will be the promise of training or an internship.

The Germans are launching a series of bilateral deals with countries like Spain, Portugal and Greece to finance apprenticeships in Germany and to help with lending to small companies.

One of the German ministers was encouraging young people to move to Germany. "We can help with training costs and language costs," she said.

Weak lending

There is recognition that if unemployment is to fall then small and medium-size companies need to be helped. For they provide two-thirds of all jobs. "They are the backbone of the EU," said the German Labour Minister, Ursula von der Leyen.

There are difficulties. At the moment a company in northern Italy can be paying an interest rate 2.5% higher than a German company to the north. And companies in southern Europe are struggling to access credit. So the European Investment Bank was recently recapitalised. Helping small and medium-sized companies will be one of the priorities.

Mr Moscovici said "we are redefining the balance between reducing deficits and growth". There is no question but that there is less emphasis on controlling budgets and reducing spending.

The Germans continue to push for structural reforms - like freeing up the labour market. Mr Moscovici thought it necessary to tell his audience that the French were not afraid of structural reforms.

Europe's leaders know that promises of further integration and unity are not enough - Europe will be judged on whether it can deliver, particular employment. So a vigorous debate is under way, as to where jobs come and whether the EU's structures and regulations help or hinder in incubating innovation.

 
Gavin Hewitt Article written by Gavin Hewitt Gavin Hewitt Europe editor

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  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 78.

    The EU isn't competitive on a world scale or any scale, end of.

    Example; French construction tradesmen, no competition allowed, so no Poles or Ukranians (regarded as illegals) so 50+ euro per hour, 30% paid on signing a deal, 30% paid on starting work. IS THAT A JOKE! Whereas UK £12 to £22 per hour paid as earned. Who would you employ? And I haven't mentioned India or China.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 77.

    @47.efan ekoku

    "Those in charge want us to work longer. What idiot prescribed raising retirement ages?"

    Obviously someone with a grasp of basic maths. The retirement age should be linked to the average lifespan
    ////

    Don't you think those jobs should go to the young unemployed rather than old duffers like me? I do! But I'm not selfish.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 76.

    68.Fingertapper

    The EU and the UK individually still fudge the old dilemma - do you want to work all week to afford one pair of domestically-produced shoes which cost 100 quid but which provided work for several of your fellow citizens or do you want ten pairs of shoes at a tenner, made in cheap third world

    EUp: 2 pairs I bought in Germany recently 90E China, Indonesia

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 75.

    69
    If UKIP expect to be taken seriously as a future parliamentary party I'd guess that they're scrambling to put a comprehensive manifesto together. Apart from the issue of EU membership which plays well in the pub at closing time, Mr Farage's other pronouncements on other matters appear to be regurgitated Thatcherism which may not be endorsed by his party or appeal to the wider electorate

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 74.

    @41.The J Hoovers Witnesses

    34.chiptheduck

    "...public sector artificial jobs..."

    ===

    Such as?

    ====

    Such as every job working for the EU and its quangos in Brussels.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 73.

    The so-called "leaders" of Europe can't be THAT worried about youth unemployment if they have set aside just 6 Billion euros to try to address the issue. How many states in the European Union? Frankly its all too little, too late. Where Europe and its states fudged & ran itself into the ground backing a failed banking system, China and the like have just strolled in and took the lot [jobs] off us.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 72.

    61.Andy The Thinker

    "The EU should revert to being a free trade organisation"

    It never was a free trade organisation. That is what we thought we were joining in 1973 but we were being conned

    I thought it was a free trade organisation until I went to work in Germany in 1972. Then I found out what it was really about. At first I couldn't believe it because the idea is so stupid

    UKIP

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 71.

    61 - Andy
    "The EU should revert to being a free trade organisation".
    But without rules it then it becomes a race to the bottom - how cheap will you do the job, how little regulation will you accept. We're all post-industrial societies with much the same problems and assets. The EU's forefathers gave the impression that everyone would be a winner but logically there must be losers.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 70.

    The German Finance Minister ... "I think we have done quite well". But he said this was not enough, otherwise, "we will lose the struggle for EU unity".

    EUp: They lost that struggle at the very latest when they rammed the Lisbon Treaty down the throats of the British and others. By so doing they demonstrated that they were sick, anti-democratic, megalomaniac and dangerous.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 69.

    I'm surprised there is no mention on this board of UKIP, who highlighted the EU as the biggest single issue of interest to the electorate. Are they being censored?

  • rate this
    +13

    Comment number 68.

    The EU and the UK individually still fudge the old dilemma - do you want to work all week to afford one pair of domestically-produced shoes which cost 100 quid but which provided work for several of your fellow citizens or do you want ten pairs of shoes at a tenner, made in cheap third world sweatshops and providing no domestic jobs except for a part time guy who unloads the shipping container

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 67.

    Quite simple.All the businesses found production was cheaper in the Far east. Trouble is, unless there are natural resources there will eventually be no money to buy the cheap goods.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 66.

    'The German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, agreed that, in relation to the eurozone, "I think we have done quite well".'

    62% of Greeks under 24 unemployed in November (Austrian Radio website) and he thinks they have done well !

    A whole raft of people like him need to be removed from office and from power in the "EU"

    The "EU" still is not Europe!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 65.

    The issue is that the economic model of the EU high taxation and govt expenditure (45% of GDP) has removed money from the wealth creators resulting in slow or no growth and higher unemployment. The EU has to move towards a model similar to SE Asia based on 25% of GDP or less! ie consume less of the nations' wealth then growth will be stimulated. The EU's share of world GDP is now below 30%.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 64.

    61.Andy The Thinker

    "These pen-pushers in Brussells don't even answer e-mails when they are asked to account for their policy decisions"

    Ring them up! They don't like that either!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 63.

    "So a vigorous debate is under way" etc etc

    Hardly. Those who are enriched by the EU continue to demand more of it, and they continue to absolutely ignore everyone else who wants the corrupt scam to end.

    That is not a "debate". A debate implies that the EU elite and the people of Europe breath the same air.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 62.

    In the US they say if it aint broke.... but it is broken as there is no trust with politicians who got us into this by spending on the taxpayers credit card and now the youth are paying for it. So don't expect us to get out of this anytime soon

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 61.

    These pen-pushers in Brussells don't even answer e-mails when they are asked to account for their policy decisions. They think they are unaccountable and think they are above dealing with the ordinary person who pays their wages.

    The people in Brussells are either accountable, or they are a foreign dictatorship. Which is it going to be?

    The EU should revert to being a free trade organisation.

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 60.

    The European project was not conceived out of a lie - it was conceived out of a desire never to go to war again - and so far that has been pretty successful. Without the EU, the Bosnia-Serbia conflict would have gone out of control, it was bad enough; the descent into squabbling nation state as it was a century ago, produced first WW1 and then Soviet Russia and Hitler. Negativity not an option.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 59.

    6 billion Euros? Surely the responsibility for dealing with this is at a national level, Europe wide job schemes? Is this a ploy to create a Euro dole? this will be regarded with even less gratitude than many who benefit from national schemes.

    The EU should be concentrating on things that need to be done on scales bigger than 1 country.
    I would suggest that's at the top end of the skill scale.

 

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