Stimulating employment among young people is the first priority to spur economic growth in a recession-hit Europe, according to discussions of EU leaders at the informal European Council Summit yesterday, 30 January.
President Barosso said: "Today I want to focus on youth unemployment. It is reaching very high levels in some Member States. This can have long term consequences with young people becoming alienated from the world of work".
More than 23 million people are unemployed in Europe today. Unless we can improve our growth rates, unemployment will remain high. We need to keep people in work and create new jobs, including in the "green economy". This means taking concrete action to overcome the "skills mismatch" and the "geographic mismatch". It also means reforming labour markets and addressing the cost of labour in relation to productivity", the statement of EU leaders says.
More than 5.5 million young people in the EU are unemployed - about 22.3% of the entire youth workforce, according to the latest statistics published in January. Spain is the hardest hit, with youth unemployment there edging close to 50%. And the trend does not seem to improve as the economic doldrums push more and more young Europeans to line up for social benefits.