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
    0

    Comment number 298.

    277. Margaret Howard

    Way to edit someone's comment! The reason for the U.S`s cheap energy was given i.e. shale gas.
    Incidentally, U.S. is soon to be a net exporter of energy.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 297.

    "The European Commission has allowed some EU member states to slow their pace of austerity cuts"

    "Allowed"? It`s time we got up off our knees, and took back the authority that the unelected Commission has been allowed to steal.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 296.

    294.The J Hoovers Witnesses
    The logic's nothing sensational, so there's no need for any subterfuge. Why do you posture as if there is?
    -
    You picked one aspect of my comment and ignored the rest, typical response.

  • Comment number 295.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 294.

    293.where am I

    "...all disguised as being for the benefit of all..."

    ===

    There's no more disguise about it, probably less, than there is re national develoment aid for depressed areas within any member state, say Merseyside in the UK.

    The logic's nothing sensational, so there's no need for any subterfuge. Why do you posture as if there is?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 293.

    Unfortunately this is another example of why the EU doesn't work. Every country whatever its pretentions is doing what's best for itself. Not a criticism, politicians are supposed to do so for the countries that elect them. Germany and its artificially low exchange rate for exports. France and the CAP, eastern Europe and the development fund et cetera all disguised as being for the benefit of all

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 292.

    Youth unemployment is only one facet of the problem - what about destruction of real jobs, destruction of identity, the deliberate outlawry of national pride, the irremovable nature of the technocrat bureaucracy and the now obvious "victory by other means" nature of German dominance.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 291.

    287.got-the-ledger-in-an-iron-lung

    "...But will that be best achieved by insulting them?..."

    ===

    No: the Murdoch press seems to prefer flattery of utter idiots.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 290.

    274: I agree with you but if we share so much in common can you point out which EU countries (other than Ireland, Malta, Cyprus which were all under UK rule in last 200 years) share the institutions of: common law, trial by jury, first past the post voting, general elections as opposed to national elections

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 289.

    \286 I am fairly sure that we share gens with all humans. We do not share a common language even if the root may be the same for most (but not all) European languages. The penal systems are very different. We share democracy as a concept but not how it should work. We do not have a common cultural history (unless you are talking about conquests), We do not agree about the social contract.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 288.

    286. The J Hoovers Witnesses
    "Apart from, genes, an Indo-European language, a proportionate penal system (unlike sharia), post-Enlightenment thinking, generally secular administration, democracy, a common musical and cultural history, sport, a social contract etc., etc"

    Yes, yes but what have the Roman's done for us?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 287.

    285 "The result will be determined by whomsoever cynically dupes the most stupid 20%"

    But will that be best achieved by insulting them?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 286.

    269.Justin150

    "...All we share in common with most of Europe is battlefields and cemeteries..."

    ===

    Apart from, genes, an Indo-European language, a proportionate penal system (unlike sharia), post-Enlightenment thinking, generally secular administration, democracy, a common musical and cultural history, sport, a social contract etc., etc, you're right.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 285.

    284.got-the-ledger-in-an-iron-lung

    "...The idea that you can persuade some one by trying to insult them is truly hilarious!..."

    ===

    Forgive me, the unaddressed, but I think the insult was incidental to the logic.

    In an evenly split referendum between the least stupid 80%, the result will be determined by whomsoever cynically dupes the most stupid 20%, won't it?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 284.

    281 "The idea that this country could leave the EU because of the mindless swivel-eyed among us is terrifying"

    The idea that you can persuade some one by trying to insult them is truly hilarious!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 283.

    260.Justin150

    "...The UK car firm did not raid its pension scheme..."

    ===

    I did not for one moment suggest they did. They did not need to do that.

    The RECEIVERS, through the courts where necessary, raided the like, under the then bankruptcy law to defray creditors.

    Thanks to HRA that can no longer happen.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 282.

    EU leaders not actually concerned about the effects of unemployment on the people of europe but very concerned about the knock-on effects of continued unemployment on ''the European project''.

    Pretty much sums up everything that is wrong with this unstoppable gravy train for failed politicians and other assorted eurocrats.

    Keep free trade, scrap everything else.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 281.

    The idea that this country could leave the EU because of the mindless swivel-eyed among us is truly terrifying.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 280.

    #279 gtleail

    --"Lets see how close what we were offered then, is to what we`ve got now."

    --Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie ?

    --from having little before the EEC -- to the same today ?

    -- the problem is at home --it always was --and remains so.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 279.

    Dear auntie Beeb,
    please dig out your old Jimmy Young radio shows, in which we were being persuaded to vote "yes" to the European market, with all the benefits it would bring.
    Lets see how close what we were offered then, is to what we`ve got now.
    Might be interesting listening.

 

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