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Youth Employment Initiative (YEI)

The Youth Employment Initiative is one of the main EU financial resources to support the implementation of Youth Guarantee schemes. It was launched to provide support to young people living in the regions where youth unemployment was higher than 25% in 2012.

It exclusively supports young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs), including long-term unemployed youngsters or those not registered as job-seekers.

This ensures that in parts of Europe where the challenges are most acute, young persons can receive targeted support.

The YEI typically supports the provision of

  • apprenticeships,
  • traineeships,
  • job placements
  • further education leading to a qualification.

Under the Youth Guarantee, Member States should put in place measures to ensure that young people up to the age of 25 receive a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed.

The Youth Employment Initiative is complementary to other actions undertaken at national level, in particular with European Social Fund (ESF) support, with a view to setting up or implementing the youth guarantee schemes. The ESF can reach out beyond individuals and it helps reform employment, education and training institutes and services.

The total budget (for all eligible EU Member States) of the YEI is €6.4 billion for the period 2014-20. The YEI is implemented in accordance with ESF rules. Of the total budget, €3.2 billion comes from a dedicated Youth Employment budget line complemented by €3.2 billion more from the ESF. The ESF contribution is topped up by the eligible Member States' own financial resources.

Given that the unemployment is still very high, the Commission proposed on 14 September 2016 to increase the YEI budget from € 6.4 to € 8.4 billion. Thus, the YEI overall resources will be increased by € 2 billion for 2017-2020 if the Council and the European Parliament adopt the Commission's proposal.

In order to mobilise faster YEI actions on the ground, substantial funding was released to Member States in the form of pre-financing, which in 2015 was exceptionally increased to 30% of the special YEI budget line.


  • In February 2013 the European Council agreed to create the Youth Employment Initiative to increase the EU financial support available to the regions and individuals struggling most with youth unemployment and inactivity.
  • In April 2013 the Youth Guarantee Recommendation was formally adopted to ensure young people's successful transition into work.