An initiative to tackle joblessness and to boost employment in the EU has been jointly presented to the European Parliament by the labour ministers of Greece and Luxembourg today, with GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer hailing this as a positive move in ending the bloc’s failed neoliberal policies.

Zimmer said such plans would be particularly beneficial to member states with above-average EU unemployment rates:

“I fully support the proposal by the Alternate Minister Rania Antonopoulou and by Minister Nikolas Schmit to allocate at least 5 per cent of the ‘Juncker Plan’ for investment into qualification and job creation especially for the young and long-term unemployed, and to exempt respective national investments from the Maastricht criteria. After years of devastating EU crisis measures, it has become a European responsibility to help the affected persons and to give them help. The plan has already garnered the support of the ministers from Spain, Italy, France, Portugal and Slovenia.”

“The worst effects of EU policies during the crisis have been youth and long-term unemployment – pushing millions of Europeans into poverty and destitution. In about a quarter of the countries, long-term unemployment stood high above the Eurozone average. In countries like Greece, Slovakia or Italy, long-term unemployment rate is nearly 60 or 70 percent. An entire generation is at risk of becoming permanently excluded,” the German MEP continued.

“Today’s proposed measures should serve as a first step in ending the EU’s failed neoliberal policies.”

“We call for a European public investment programme in order to boost demand, rebuild infrastructure, and safeguard social security. A social EU budget and a greatly enhanced European Social Fund should form the basis for a future upward convergence of social standards in the EU,” she concluded.

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