Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Youth Employment Initiative (YEI)

The Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) 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 regions where youth unemployment was higher than 25% in 2012. It was topped up in 2017 for regions with youth unemployment higher than 25%in 2016.

The Youth Employment Initiative exclusively supports young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs), including the long-term unemployed or those not registered as job-seekers. It ensures that in parts of Europe where the challenges are most acute, young people can receive targeted support. Typically, the YEI funds the provision of

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

The YEI supports the implementation of the Youth Guarantee. 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, supported in particular by the European Social Fund (ESF), that aim to implement youth guarantee schemes. The ESF can reach out beyond individuals, helping reform employment, education and training institutes and services.


The total budget of the Youth Employment Initiative is €8.8 billion for the period 2014-2020. The initial budget was €6.4 billion; however, in September 2016, given the still high levels of youth unemployment, the Commission proposed to increase this budget. €2.4 billion was added for eligible Member States for the period 2017-2020.

Of the total budget, €4.4 billion comes from a dedicated Youth Employment budget line, which is complemented by €4.4 billion more from ESF national allocations. The ESF contribution is complemented by funds from eligible Member States. The YEI is implemented in accordance with ESF rules.

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.

For the period 2021-2027, the Commission has proposed to integrate Youth Employment Initiative into the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+).


  • 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.

Share this page