The EU Youth Report published today calls for youth employment, social inclusion, health and the well-being of young people to be top priorities in Europe's youth policy. The report, which is produced every three years by the Commission, underlines that the EU and Member States must do more to support young people, who have borne the brunt of the economic crisis.
Youth unemployment in the EU among 15-24-year-olds has increased by 50% since the onset of the crisis, from an average of 15% in February 2008 to 22.5% in July this year. Latest figures released by Eurostat show that highest rates are in Greece (53.8%) and Spain (52.9%). Across the EU, more than 30% of young unemployed have been jobless for more than a year.
"I am deeply concerned by the effects of the crisis on young people. Far too many of them are at risk of social exclusion and poverty. Young people are our future and I am committed to strengthening our policies and programmes in education, training and youth in order to increase their job prospects and opportunities in life," said Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
There are, however, signs of hope on the horizon: the report finds that nearly all Member States are implementing the EU Youth Strategy, which aims to create more and better opportunities for young people and to promote active citizenship, social inclusion and solidarity. Since the previous report in 2009, Member States have strengthened education, employment and entrepreneurship initiatives aimed at young people. Levels of youth participation in associations and social movements have remained high.
Erasmus for All, the proposed new education, training and youth programme for 2014-2020, will be at the heart of the new EU Youth Strategy. The new programme envisages a significant increase in funding which would enable up to 5 million people to receive EU grants to study, train or volunteer abroad - nearly twice as many compared with today under the 2007-2013 programmes.