Ahead of a joint meeting on youth unemployment between French and German finance and employment ministers in Paris tomorrow, S&D Group leader Hannes Swoboda called for an "effective and adequately financed youth guarantee".*
In a letter sent to the French and German ministers, he urged them to extend the scope of the youth guarantee to include all young people up to the age of 30 and to increase the funding from the €6 billion proposed so far.
He stressed: "The scope of the youth guarantee should be broadened to match the reality of youth unemployment: the guarantee should include young people under the age of 30.
"Otherwise we will leave behind almost half of the EU's young unemployed people."
He also underlined the need to act quickly, urging the EU to mobilise the €6 billion already agreed by the European Council as soon as 2014.
The S&D Group president also sent a clear warning that this sum is not enough: "The International Labour Organisation has estimated that at least €21 billion is needed to deliver on the youth guarantee – in the eurozone alone", he writes.
He urged them to agree to reprogramme EU funds to meet the goal of reducing youth unemployment.
"A part of the European social fund (ESF) budget for 2013 should be retargeted and this is an opportunity to get started and test the youth guarantee now."
He also called for the role of the European Investment Bank (EIB) to be reinforced, through measures such as: "linking loans or lower interest rates to the creation of jobs and training places, or supporting the development of dual education systems (combining academic studies with practical skills) in southern Europe".
"But this money has to supplement, not replace, the use of EU funds in the form of grants", he added.
In his letter, Hannes Swoboda also restated his "deep conviction" that "the only true remedy for the scourge of mass unemployment among our young people is the transition towards sustainable growth".
"Your meeting is an important opportunity to begin to rewrite that script and to show that the EU can indeed rise to the challenge and respond to the suffering of the millions of Europe's young unemployed who are the hapless casualties of a crisis not of their making", he concluded.
*According to the European agreement, young people under 25 would be offered a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.