Communication: Investing in Europe’s youth

Author (Corporate)
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Series Details (2016) 940 final (7.12.16)
Publication Date 07/12/2016
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The European project is about building a better future for European citizens. This also means investing in young people, providing them with new opportunities and helping them to seize these opportunities. It is about giving young people the best possible start in life by investing in their knowledge, skills and experiences, helping them to find or train for their first job and giving them an opportunity to make their voice heard. This investment in young people lays the foundation for a fair, open and democratic society, for social mobility and inclusion as well as for sustained growth and employment.

Over recent years, the situation has improved for young people in many respects: youth unemployment has dropped from a peak of 23.9% in 2013 to 18.5% in 2016, with a decrease of more than 10% over the last year alone. The share of early school-leavers from education and training dropped from 17% in 2002 to 11% in 2015. Among 32-34 years old, tertiary education attainment increased from 23.6% in 2002 to 38.7% in 2015.

However, the crisis has hit the young population hard and fighting youth unemployment remains a priority. With more than 4 million young people unemployed in the EU, young Europeans have borne the brunt of the economic crisis and many continue to face a difficult situation. The youth unemployment rate in the EU is still double the overall unemployment rate and reaches, in some Member States, more than 40%. These figures do not tell the full story as many young people are not registered as unemployed and are not looking for a job due to a variety of factors, including family responsibilities or health issues but also discouragement and a lack of incentive to register as unemployed. In total, about 6.6 million young people are neither in employment, education nor training (NEETs), and for some this situation has been lasting for many years.

Against this background, many young people do not look with confidence at their future. 57% of the young generation feel that young people are excluded from economic, social and democratic life. At the same time young people are eager to engage and participate in society. The situation and prospects of young people are not compatible with Europe's social market economy and the Commission's priority to boost jobs, growth and investment. As stressed by President Juncker in his State of the Union Address, there is a risk that the millennials - the Generation Y - might be the first generation in 70 years to be poorer than their parents. This also has to do with the broader economic and demographic shifts in European societies and how wealth and opportunities are distributed between generations, with the crisis of recent years compounding more profound trends.

The Commission proposes a renewed effort to support young people. Following the State of the Union Address, the Bratislava Roadmap agreed by the EU leaders of the 27 Member States has set out the need to provide better opportunities for youth through further EU support for Member States in fighting youth unemployment and on enhanced EU programmes dedicated to youth. As a response, this Communication puts forward actions to invest more effectively in young people. The aim is to help them to seize opportunities, integrate well into society, become active citizens and pursue a successful professional career.

This initiative is about how the EU and Member States can step up their efforts to offer young people the support, the education, training and job opportunities they deserve. The Communication is part of a larger package of action to improve young people's opportunities. As part of this package, the Commission launches the European Solidarity Corps and presents a Communication on improving and modernising education.

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