The European Parliament's Employment Committee yesterday boosted the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), the instrument that is to put in place the much mooted 'Youth Guarantee', by giving its green light to amendments to the regulation on the European Social Fund.

The aim is for any young person in the EU in regions where youth unemployment is highest who has been unemployed for more than four months to be offered a job, training or an apprenticeship.

One positive development was that the European Commission's initial proposal to target young people under 25 was amended, with the upper-age ceiling raised to 30.

GUE/NGL MEP Paul Murphy commented: “It is excellent that the Employment Committee passed amendments strengthening the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) and the European Social Fund (ESF), including my amendments. The raising of the age limit from 25 to 30 years or the quoted need for decent pay and conditions, for instance, would strengthen the YEI.”

The Commission's proposal is for EUR 6 billion of funding to be allocated to the Youth Employment Initiative for the period 2014-2020, EUR 3 billion of which would come from the European Social Fund (ESF) and the other half from cohesion policy funding. However, these amounts remain subject to ongoing negotiations on the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF).

GUE/NGL MEP Thomas Händel commented: “EUR 6 billion is very little given the number of young people in Europe. It will be difficult to find the complementary funding for this programme.”

Paul Murphy also voiced concerns about where the funding will come from: “I fear that the severe lack of funding will bar any noticeable change for young unemployed people. An important battle will still need to be waged against austerity and for massive investment in jobs and growth.”

In addition, Thomas Händel raised concerns about the lack of “quality apprenticeships”. He described many young people's situations as a form of “two-fold” exploitation where they neither earn anything not learn anything.

GUE/NGL MEP Inês Zuber added: “I consider the Employment Committee's approval of increasing the age eligibility very positive; however, I remain concerned about the Commission's support for precariousness in the labour market. This Initiative should never be a substitute for stable and safe work with rights: all jobs should come with a contract, for example. Precariousness needs to be tackled because it only serves to perpetuate a continuous cycle of unemployment, particularly among young people.”

Now negotiators from Parliament and Council will discuss these amendments and try to reach a first-reading agreement.

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