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, Europe editor Article written by Gavin Hewitt Gavin Hewitt Europe editor

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  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 98.

    If you want youth employment, society must identify meaningful work that can exploit youthful energy and tolerate youthful inexperience -- and reserve it for the young. And it must prepare youth then for work in their next life-stage.

    Likewise, If you want the elderly to work, society must identify meaningful work that can exploit their experience and tolerate their frailties.

    IMHO.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 97.

    The inability of youth to get jobs that will start them on careers has dire implications for the future.It means that no matter what theoretical skills they acquired in school, knowledge that will be forgotten by the time they ever do find employment, they will not develop the skills to compete with other societies that are developing the next generation's cadre of professionals and trade workers.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 96.

    @88 QOT Thank you for supporting what I wanted to say, but didn't have space to do so, through providing the two excellent links. As they note, it is true that immigrants are better qualified than Germans. The apprenticeship scheme is very sound, but there is little use in offering that to these highly qualified people; the solution Gavin's text refers to.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 95.

    @79.margaret howard
    72 EU
    "It never was a free trade organisation. That is what we thought we were joining in 1973 but we were being conned"
    //
    No we weren't ! I voted then and we knew that it was much more than just another trading pact. That's why he had a referendum.
    ///

    Don't be ridiculous! We were told it was the Common Market, to remove internal trade barriers & boost trade.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 94.

    Not that recognising that there is a problem will make any difference; they will sit around having meaningless politically discussions, will not reform their economies, will expect other countries to finance their debt, and then scream anti-facist rhetoric whether they get the money or not.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 93.

    The evidence has been that there has been no "war in the west" for 70 years and the prosperity we have known has been unprecedented. It is appalling that we have "pushed" war elsewhere, but given the "Cold War" we've gained a lot of time - do we really want to go back to 28 frontier checks every time we cross a border...I bet no one wants to go back to booze control at Dover!

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 92.

    #89 chip

    "And your evidence that there would have been a war without the EU is what?"

    -- Britain and France who want less EU --read the news !

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 91.

    There should be another NUremburg so thse who forced such policies through, through use of blackmail, and the lapdogs involved are punished. The Germans have never been able to handle strength they gain through the help and forgiveness of others in a responsible wy. Blind, blinkered madness is all they know.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 90.

    Commenting this tweet:

    Interesting Open Europe/ComRes poll. With a significant return of powers to Westminster a clear majority in the UK would vote to stay in EU.

    With more privileges for the UK, a clear majority in the EU would vote for the UK to get out.

    No re-negotiation before the referendum.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 89.

    @60.jfkyachts

    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.

    ///

    And your evidence that there would have been a war without the EU is what?

    You need to think this through, my friend.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 88.

    #84 QueerEZ

    "They want to offer apprenticeships to unemployed highly trained graduates???" ????

    --Who does ?

    http://www.thejobofmylife.de/en/

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/new-study-immigrants-are-better-educated-than-germans-a-901681.html

    --do your homework !

    " the time has come for another Nuremburg,"??? --or Strawberry Fieds ?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 87.

    #48 ChrisNS

    "The UK is 14th worst out of the EU 27, behind France, Italy and Sweden amongst others.

    Any particular reason why your source it right and my source is wrong?"

    If statistics are given by national govts.-- one should be careful, as it is accepted as being truthful --without independent sources.

    --also many govts. have different ┬┤definitions┬┤of unemployment.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 86.

    As one of Thatcher's aspiring working class; I graft harder than those EU migrants to keep my not too bad wage, while studying for a Programming Degree. I've heard Britain needs more programmers, yet with an eye kept on the jobs market, I see 90% of positions are for seniors not juniors. I accept I'll have to labour on, while trying my hand at self-employment on the side, singing; Que sera, sera.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 85.

    EU sceptacism is rapidly spreading and it is not just in the UK either.

    At a recent meeting in the Netherlands, Dutch, German, French & Belgian workers were all voicing how the EU is failing.

    They, like many Brits, want an updated EEC-type agreement, not a wasteful, bureaucratic leviathan that dictates rules, laws (ECHR) & regulations to them. The EU is a bottomless money-pit.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 84.

    Now the Germans have destroyed countries & people's lives through the self-admitted failed experiment they imposed on others (often with comments made along the lines of 'we don't care'), the time has come for another Nuremburg, especially for those who were forced to suicide. They still carry on with half-baked ideas. They want to offer apprenticeships to unemployed highly trained graduates???

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 83.

    EU rules and regulations mean we will never be competitive on the world stage. That's why we get China to manufacture our goods. Our companies then don't have to worry about health and safety, pollution, workers welfare etc just reap the profits. Our young unemployed people meanwhile are becoming engaged in the black economy which yields no tax to government coffers. A generation ruined.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 82.

    What's the chance they'll mention the two rather large elephants in the room?

  • rate this
    -8

    Comment number 81.

    Europe,US & Allies are heading to Apartheid via classifying crimes by non-desirables as Terrorism.Most natural for Colonials to gravitate to 'Mother Countries' where Wealth of Colonies were taken for Safe-Keeping,at least that is what was taught in School.Is there a valid reason why British Guianese had to learn Waltzing Matilda before their own Natl Anthem? billybong anyone. Israel is template.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 80.

    In a world dominated by ' it's not what you know, it's who you know', I'll be surprised if I ever get a job. Need I remind about our very own leader emphasising this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13173505

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 79.

    61 Andy

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

    Do you think they might answer your emails then?

    72 EU

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

    No we weren't ! I voted then and we knew that it was much more than just another trading pact. That's why he had a referendum.

 

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