STATEMENT BY JOAN BURTON
Minister for Social Protection
Labour TD, Dublin West
The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, has welcomed further progress made on the EU Youth Guarantee which would form a key part of the response to the youth unemployment crisis.
Minister Burton also welcomed the funding proposal announced by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.
"Unemployment when young has been shown to have lasting negative effects throughout a person’s life, which makes it imperative to tackle the youth unemployment crisis in Europe."
Minister Burton was speaking at the conclusion of a two-day informal meeting of European ministers for social protection and employment held in Dublin Castle as part of the Irish Presidency.
The meeting – the theme of which was 'Getting people into work' – gave Minister Burton an opportunity to listen to the views of member states on the Commission’s proposal for a Youth Guarantee. Under such a Guarantee, a young person aged 15-24 would be guaranteed a job or education place within a set number of months of becoming unemployed.
The Minister, who chaired the sessions on youth unemployment and related topics, welcomed the fact that further progress had been made on the Guarantee. Negotiations overseen by the Irish Presidency will now continue in the run-up to the formal meeting of ministers at the end of this month.
"As chair of EPSCO, I am committed to ensuring that the Council Recommendation on a Youth Guarantee can be agreed at the formal Ministers’ council on 28 February, which President Van Rompuy will also attend, highlighting the importance of this issue. There are detailed negotiations on-going and I have listened carefully to the issues raised and concerns expressed by my colleagues and I will work very hard over the coming weeks to find an agreed solution that will support the young people of Europe."
Aside from the Youth Guarantee, Minister Burton hosted a workshop to discuss appropriate policy responses to the labour market and poverty difficulties faced by jobless households. In particular, the ministers emphasised the importance of active inclusion strategies, combining income support, activation and services, in providing an integrated response to the multi-faceted needs of jobless households.
The Minister noted that tackling youth unemployment is the biggest challenge facing Europe.
"With an unemployment rate of 24 per cent, young people are of particular concern. We have to give our young people hope for the future and avoid a lost generation."
At the main plenary session chaired by Minister Burton, ministers discussed for the first time a proposal for an integrated European public employment services bench-learning initiative.
Ministers also agreed that it was crucial for Member States to work with all stakeholders to ensure that those young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEETS) have access to the services available to put them on a pathway to work.
The informal was preceded by Minister Burton hosting a meeting of the Presidency Troika with the social platform which emphasised that all sectors need to work closely together to ensure that inclusive growth is at the heart of the EU recovery agenda.