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Youth Employment Initiative: first programme adopted


young people in front of French and EU flags
© European Union

The European Commission has adopted today the first Operational Programme with France to use the available funding from the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) to tackle youth unemployment.

France will receive 620 million from the YEI and the European Social Fund (ESF) to help young people not in employment, education or training (the so-called NEETs) to find a job, in those regions with youth unemployment rates over 25%. It is the first programme adopted in the EU for this €6 billion initiative covering 20 Member States.

The YEI in France will support different actions to help those young people with worse chances in the labour market, for example by

  • counselling and training the less-skilled;
  • enabling mobility of apprentices at regional, national and in some cases cross-border level;
  • helping to prevent early school-leaving and better identify young NEETS, and
  • giving a second chance to those who left school without any diploma or qualification to set a foot on the labour market through work experience or traineeships (e.g. garantie jeunes, Ecole de la deuxième chance…).

Public Employment Services have a relevant role to achieve these aims and this operational programme will be an opportunity to improve their outreach to young NEETs.


Currently, around 5.6 million young Europeans are jobless, 650.000 in France. Around one million young French people are currently out of employment, education or training (NEETs).

To top-up available EU financial support to the regions where individuals struggle most with youth unemployment and inactivity, the Council and the European Parliament agreed to create a dedicated Youth Employment Initiative (YEI). The YEI funding will comprise €3 billion from a specific new EU budget line dedicated to youth employment (frontloaded to 2014-15) matched by at least €3 billion from the European Social Fund national allocations.

This will amplify the support provided by the European Social Fund for the implementation of the Youth Guarantee by funding activities to directly help young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) aged up to 25 years, or where the Member States considers relevant, up to 29 years. These activities include job provision, traineeships and apprenticeships, business start-up support, etc. The YEI will be programmed as part of the ESF 2014-20.

In order to draw down Youth Employment Initiative funding as quickly as possible, Member States can make use of several special rules: Where YEI assistance is programmed through a specific Operational Programme, like in France, such programme can be adopted even before the Partnership Agreement which lays the basis for the use of all EU Structural and Investment Funds in the country in 2014-20. Moreover, the Youth Employment Initiative can reimburse expenditure incurred by Member States since as early as 1 September 2013, i.e. even before the programmes have been adopted. In addition, the EU's top-up funding under the YEI does not require any national co-financing; only the ESF contribution to the YEI needs to be co-financed.