The EESC stresses the usefulness of the Youth Opportunities initiative and is ready to get involved in implementing the initiative by cooperating with the social partners and civil society organisations and through joint action with stakeholders to promote it. The EU's austerity policy and the lack of a clear and generally recognised growth policy could jeopardise the success of the Youth Opportunities initiative, therefore it is vital to create an appropriate economic and financial environment. The EESC emphasises the importance of appropriate education, training and careers advice and believes that it is appropriate to support first work experience and on-the-job training. Quality apprenticeships, placements in enterprises and traineeships are an important means for young people to acquire skills and work experience. The first job should guarantee a set of minimum employment standards. The creation of new high-quality jobs must remain a priority.
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The opinion deals with the prevention of "radicalisation" of young people. For the purpose of this opinion, radicalisation is understood as a process through which individuals or groups become extremists eventually using, promoting or advocating violence for their aims. The opinion highlights activities undertaken by civil society and calls for continuing to work on a coherent EU-concept, including sustainable and effective European support, funding and coordination.
In this opinion, the Committee endorses, without comments, the Commission's proposal on the resources for the specific allocation for the Youth Employment Initiative.
The objective of the proposal is to adapt the amounts of resources available for economic, social and territorial cohesion set out in Article 91(1) of Regulation (EU) No 1303/20131, the amount of resources for the specific allocation for the Youth Employment Initiative ('YEI') set out in Article 92(5) of that Regulation and the annual breakdown of commitment appropriations reflected in Annex VI of that Regulation to reflect the increase of the resources of the YEI, in line with the adopted budget for 2019. More specifically, commitment appropriations for the specific allocation for the YEI should be increased by an amount of EUR 116,7 million in current prices, bringing the overall amount for 2019 up to EUR 350 million.
Youth unemployment is a top policy priority of the EESC. Monitoring youth employment measures closely, the Committee is putting forward recommendations based on current practices in Member States. It also suggests that only a strategy geared towards growth and aimed at strengthening competitiveness and restoring the confidence of investors and households, as well as sustainable investment and an economic recovery plan, can stimulate demand for labour.
In its opinion, the EESC welcomes the commitment to the renewed European Solidarity Corps (ESC) with an increased budget and target for participation. It also appreciates the merging with the EU Aid Volunteers. The Committee believes that in the future, the EU needs to develop two independent support programmes, one for youth and one for volunteering.
The EESC makes a series of concrete recommendations, such as: 1) the employment strand of the ECS needs to be subject to strict regulation and regular review; 2) there should be no age restriction on the ESC as it should be a support for volunteering; 3) the ESC should be restricted to the not for profit sector; 4)the main civil society platforms in the field (the European Youth Forum and the European Volunteering Centre) should be centrally involved in the regulation and oversight of the ESC.
The information report will seek to take a holistic approach to situation of young people in the north and south of the region, looking not just at the employment market but at wider trends amongst young people also outside of work, their self-perception, their political and social outlook on the future, their living arrangements, their view of their parents' generation and other older generations, as well as their view of the region and its role in a globalised world.
The EESC agrees with the Commission on the need to change the rules of the Parliament and of the Council on the European Social Fund and the Structural Funds, but regrets that the funds for the Initiative for Youth Employment do not result from a strengthening of the EU budget but are taken from the overall budget for cohesion. The Committee is also convinced that the foreseen amount, i.e. € 6 billion, is insufficient given the magnitude of the problem and the urgency to solve it. Finally, the Committee reiterates that the maximum age giving access to the Youth Guarantee should be increased to 30 years to cover for people who are still in a transition phase from education to employment.