Dublin Labour MEP, Emer Costello, has welcomed this morning's decision by EU Social Affairs Ministers to establish Youth Guarantee schemes, to be backed up by dedicated EU funds, in Ireland and all Member States.
"Once in place, the Youth Guarantee will guarantee young people a quality offer of employment, education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship, within four months on becoming unemployed or leaving full-time education.
"Youth unemployment is the greatest tragedy of the economic crisis. Ireland's youth unemployment rate now stands at 30%, up from 9% five years ago while across the EU as a whole, 5.7 million young people are out of work, a rise of 50% over the same period.
"While yesterday's CSO employment figures indicate that Ireland is at last turning the tide on unemployment, Europe needs to do much more if we are to end the scourge of youth unemployment.
"Today's agreement, brokered by Minister Joan Burton, is an important step in the right direction.
"The Youth Guarantee approach is not a quick-fix solution for youth unemployment crisis but it is based on what works in other European countries such as Austria, which currently has a youth unemployment rate of 8.5%, and which is increasingly being taken up.
“Under the Youth Guarantee approach, public authorities, employment services, schools, employers and unions work together to ensure that young unemployed people are either in employment, education or training at all times.
“Today's decision comes on top of the 8th February European Council which agreed to provide initial funding of €6 billion to support Youth Guarantee schemes in EU regions suffering from a youth unemployment rate of more than 25% through the new European Employment Initiative.
“A European Youth Guarantee was the first issue I spoke about after I took up my seat in the European Parliament one year ago, and it is the issue I have raised most often since then.
"I would like to congratulate Minister Burton for securing agreement on this initiative at the Social Affairs Council. The role that the Irish Labour Party has played in securing the European Youth Guarantee has been acknowledged by our sister parties and by the Party of European Socialists, which has been campaigning for a Youth Guarantee over the past year.
"Today's decision is very welcome but is by no means the end of the road. There are currently 7.5 million young people across Europe who are neither in employment, education or training – the so-called NEETS – and the EU puts the economic 'cost' of this at €150 billion in terms of taxes foregone and social transfers.
"We must ensure that the EU's seven-year budget for the 2014-20 period currently being discussed by MEPs and Member States' governments has the resources and flexibility necessary to achieve the growth and jobs, especially for young people, that Europe so badly needs.
"The Youth Guarantee approach has proven its worth in certain Member States. It is absolutely right that is now being taken up by Europe as a whole.”