Council conclusions on Youth Unemployment

1. Combating youth unemployment is a particular and immediate objective, considering the unacceptably high number of young Europeans who are unemployed. All efforts must be mobilised around the shared objective of getting young people who are not in education, employment or training back to work or into education or training within four months, as set out in the Council's recommendation on the "Youth Guarantee". Building on the Commission's communication on youth employment, determined and immediate action is required at both national and EU level.

2. The EU will mobilise all available instruments in support of youth employment. The European Council agrees on a comprehensive approach based on the following concrete measures:

  • (a) in implementing the Structural Funds, particular focus will be given to youth employment, including by reprogramming unspent funds where appropriate. The Commission and the Member States will exploit all possibilities offered by the European Social Fund (ESF), which is one of the main financial tools at EU level for this purpose, including through supporting the creation of new jobs for young workers. Where appropriate, the Member States will improve their administrative capacity, using enhanced technical assistance from the Commission and building on best practices;
  • (b) all the necessary preparations will be made for the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) to be fully operational by January 2014, allowing the first disbursements to beneficiaries in EU regions experiencing youth unemployment rates above 25% to be made.1 In order for the YEI to play its full role, the disbursement of the EUR 6 billion allocated to it should take place during the first two years of the next Multiannual Financial Framework.2 Furthermore, margins left available below the MFF ceilings for the years 2014-2017 will be used to constitut a "global margin for commitments" to fund in particular measures to fight youth unemployment. Member States benefitting from the YEI should adopt a plan to tackle youth unemployment, including through the
    implementation of the "Youth Guarantee", before the end of the year. Other Member States are encouraged to adopt similar plans in 2014. The Commission will report in 2016 on the implementation of the "Youth Guarantee" and on the operation of the YEI;
  • (c) the EIB will contribute to the fight against youth unemployment through its "Jobs for Youth" initiative and its "Investment in Skills" programme, which should be implemented without delay;
  • (d) new efforts will be made to promote the mobility of young job-seekers, including by strengthening the "Your First EURES Job" programme. Member States are encouraged to use part of their ESF allocations to support cross-border mobility schemes. The
    "Erasmus +" programme, which also fosters cross-border vocational training, must be fully operational from January 2014. The agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on the recognition of professional qualifications is particularly welcome. The Commission proposals leading to the creation of a network of public employment services should be rapidly examined. More efforts are required, notably on the proposal relating to the preservation of supplementary pension rights, which is to be adopted during the current parliamentary term;
  • (e) high quality apprenticeships and work-based learning will be promoted, notably through the European Alliance for Apprenticeships to be launched in July. The Quality Framework for Traineeships should be put into place in early 2014;
  • (f) the social partners need to be fully involved and actively engaged in these efforts. The European Council welcomes the "Framework of Actions on Youth Employment" agreed by the social partners on 11 June 2013

3. At national level, where most of the competences related to employment lie, Member States should advance with their reforms. Member States are taking measures to modernise vocational and education systems, strengthen the cooperation between education and businessto facilitate the transition from school to work, improve the integration of low-skilled young people into the labour market, address skills mismatches and promote apprenticeships and traineeships in key economic sectors, as well as entrepreneurship and start-ups. A number of Member States have already presented ambitious plans to support youth employment. But more work must be done. In particular, Member States with high youth unemployment should step up active labour market measures. It is important to pay due attention to the labour market participation of groups of vulnerable young people facing specific challenges. While recognising Member States' competences in this area, the European Council recalled the importance of shifting taxation away from labour, including by reducing social contributions, as appropriate, as a means of increasing employability and boosting job creation and competitiveness. The European Council called for increased sharing of best national practices; in this respect, it welcomed the upcoming Berlin Conference.

Read the full Council Conclusions 27/28 June 2013 Source: www.consilium.europa.eu