EU funds support youth employment and SMEs
(31 January 2012)
Following an agreement at the 30 January European Council, the €82 billion of EU structural funds still to be allocated to projects is to be quickly examined to ensure that it is effectively mobilised to support economic growth and job creation. In particular the remaining funding will be examined to see if it can have a greater impact on tackling youth unemployment and providing support for small businesses.
Member States accepted a proposal from President Barroso to examine the plans for the unallocated European Social Fund resources to help finance training and work experience opportunities for young people. The Commission will now work with the national authorities and social partners from the eight EU countries with the highest youth unemployment rates (Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ireland) to ensure that existing plans are accelerated and reinforced where possible.
Member States also endorsed proposals to review, accelerate and redirect European Regional Development funding in support of job creation by small businesses. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises have created 80% of all new jobs in the EU over the last five years.
These decisions follow on from a series of actions that the European Commission has taken to ensure that structural funds help EU countries to improve growth prospects and counter the effects of the economic crisis, including:
- Increased rates of co-financing
- Advances for the countries hardest hit by the crisis
- Reprogramming and simplification of procedures
- Access to finance for SMEs