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Berlin Summit: Merkel Tackles Youth Unemployment

Greece has the highest youth unemployment rate in the EU, at 62.5 percent as of February. Zoom

Greece has the highest youth unemployment rate in the EU, at 62.5 percent as of February.

Youth unemployment has emerged as one of the most dramatic results of the ongoing economic crisis in Europe. Chancellor Merkel has invited EU leaders to Berlin on Wednesday to discuss the issue. But critics say that more money must be made available to fight the problem.

European Union leaders are meeting today in Berlin on Chancellor Angela Merkel's invitation for a summit on youth unemployment. With youth unemployment in the euro zone at a record high of above 23.5 percent, the leaders and labor ministers of more than 20 EU nations will gather in the German capital on Wednesday.

The aim of the summit is to discuss the most efficient way to spend the €6 billion ($7.8 billion) that EU leaders have allocated to fight youth unemployment in 2014 and 2015. More than 5.6 million Europeans under the age of 25 are out of work. In Southern Europe, joblessness was already a problem before the euro crisis. It has dramatically worsened as the region has sunk into recession.

"We must not allow there to be a lost generation," said Chancellor Merkel ahead of the summit in an interview with six European newspapers this week. Youth unemployment, she added, is "perhaps the most pressing problem facing Europe at the present time.... It is highly regrettable that parts of the economic elite assume so little responsibility for the deplorable situation."

Merkel herself has been blamed for worsening the problem by insisting on tough austerity measures, including spending cuts and layoffs, in debt-plagued countries like Spain and Greece. In recent months, she has shifted her rhetoric, focusing instead on the need for growth and jobs.

The German Model?

Merkel hopes Germany can be used as a model: both its labor market reforms and its dual training system -- which combines classroom instruction with on-the-job training -- have contributed to the country having the lowest youth unemployment rate in the European Union, at 7.5 percent.

"We have to give these young people an answer -- that they have prospects in Europe -- and we have to do it now," said German Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

Critics, however, think the €6 billion earmarked last week are woefully innadequate to combat the problem. "We believe that in the next two years, about €20 to 21 billion are needed urgently," said Peer Steinbrück, Merkel's center-left challenger in fall elections, in a radio interview on Wednesday.

chw -- with wire reports

Discuss this issue with other readers!
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1. Wikimploi is the solution for the youth
jeandarch 07/03/2013
The best news is that Angela Merkel and all European ministers have a model to solve the youth unemployment and begin to support new growth: - The Wikimploi model. - http://wikimploi.wordpress.com - http://www.euractiv.com/innovation-enterprise/ex-nokia-innovation-chief-today-interview-528894 Wikimploi has concrete measures, positive examples and an exchange of best practice to create jobs for young people and Wikimploi is well targeted and quickly applied for the youth's needs.
2. Lower taxes create employment
Manish Gupte, PhD 07/03/2013
Excess outsourcing and imports took jobs and investment to other countries. Lower taxes increase spending and the requirement of those products creates jobs. Jobs mean more wealth is created. Working hard, paying taxes to the community and saving are "false virtues". Working hard, buying products which the community makes and investing with good sense (which includes some safe savings) is actually good.
3. Cruel
muley63 07/04/2013
It's with disbelief that Merkel can offer any solutions since her focus on austerity has led to youth unemployment. Her focus on the deficit has directly caused a great recession in southern Europe. It's beyond cruel that the youth has to listen to false empathy from the primary politician who has failed them.
4. Austerity leads to recession.
marletlo 07/04/2013
History has proven that. Germany needs someone with a more creative and open mind to be her leader. The idea of austerity is backward thinking. It leads only to recession and therefore less jobs for people. Look at the suffering southern European countries and you'll see.
5. EU unemployment
geogkel 07/05/2013
What about all the jobs that are exported to cheaper labor markets. When will our governments again start protecting their own people?
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Graphic: Europe's Youth Unemployment

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