Europe battle over youth unemployment

European Union leaders will hold a summit later this month to tackle the growing scourge of youth unemployment. But there’s a problem: the 6 billion euros they want to use to get to grips with the issue aren’t yet available.

Leaders agreed in February that they would set aside the money from the EU’s next long-term budget, which runs from 2014-2020, with the funds going towards a “youth guarantee” of training or a job within months of education ending.

But the European Parliament, which must approve the budget, has not yet done so, and there’s a good chance it won’t by the time EU leaders meet in Brussels on June 27-28.

“I’m not overwhelmingly optimistic,” was how one EU official responded when asked about the prospect of parliamentary approval during discussions on Tuesday and Wednesday.

While six billion euros is no small amount, diplomats acknowledge it’s largely a symbolic figure that won’t go far in tackling a vast and deepening problem. Yet it’s not the only niggle surrounding the youth scheme, which targets EU regions where youth unemployment exceeds 25 percent.

When the plans were being drawn up, most policymakers were focused on tackling youth unemployment in the southern European countries that have been hit hardest by the debt and economic crisis: Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal. Read more