The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, has announced that he will be sending employment experts to Spain to help develop a plan of action to battle the “big problem” of youth unemployment.
Almost half (48.7%) of 18-24 year olds in Spain are unemployed with the figure being over 50% in the Malaga region. Spain currently has the highest unemployment in the EU, more than double the rate in Germany.
The initiative will involve the creation of “action teams” including employers, Spanish unions and the Government, but will also be rolled across other EU countries with high unemployment including Greece, Portugal and Italy.
The European Union executive’s spokeswoman, Pia Ahrenkilde, said “We must act now, and in the short term, to do more to combat the urgency of youth unemployment. It is unacceptable to have these very alarming rates of youth unemployment in some Member States”.
The experts will “visit each of the countries concerned in February, for one or two days, to identify where the EU contribution could be useful to help develop a youth employment plan”, she added.
European aid to the value of 10,700 million euros has been assigned to Spain up to 2013, and the action teams will consider the best way to spend this money in order to increase employment.
“One of the objectives of these ‘action teams’ should be to agree on how to accelerate and, where necessary, redirect these uncommitted funds”, Ahrenkilde explained. Also they will “review the priorities of existing programs in order to have more impact on measures for young people and job creation in SMEs”, she added, going on to say that “there are no new funds” for fighting youth unemployment.
The ‘action teams’ aim to create the action plan by mid-April.
Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, responded by saying he was quite prepared to send his own experts to Brussels to accelerate the implementation of this initiative.
The plan was agreed and endorsed by EU leaders at the summit on Monday.
“…for one or two days” – is that enough to fix such a huge problem? To me this sounds like some EU executives fancy a holiday around Europe. What can they really do in two days? Watch this space for yet another failed EU initiative.