EUR 1 billion will go this year to member states for helping 650,000 young people into work. The money will be delivered thanks to European Social Fund (ESF) rule changes approved by the European Parliament on Wednesday, reads a press release. This EU Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) funding tops up ESF money in the 20 member states with regions where youth unemployment exceeds 25 percent.
The Commission proposal was approved without amendments by 632 votes to 30, with 31 abstentions.
“We are in race against time and Europe is giving a boost to youth employment. The challenge was to reach a solid and widely-backed agreement in record time – and when we are determined, the EU delivers,” said Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (EPP, FR), who steered the changes through Parliament.
The number of 15-25-year-olds who are neither employed nor in education or training, is growing alarmingly, especially in member states which have the most difficulty in matching EU funding for programmes. Frontloading funds is therefore of paramount importance, the release also points out.
YEI funding for 2014-2020 is EUR 3.2 billion, to be matched by at least EUR 3.2 billion from member states’ European Social Fund allocations. By February this year, the European Commission had approved 28 out of 34 YEI operational programmes, all of which could receive up to a third of their allocations as soon as amended rules enter into force.
The EUR 1 billion in YEI funding to be made available this year will boost the EU’s contribution towards project costs from 1-1.5 percent to 30 percent in 2015.
The countries benefiting from the initiative are Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
Member states will be able to launch the projects they need, yet YEI operations must be implemented by the end of 2018.