Stampa

 Il ruolo dei "policy-makers" nell'affrontare la disoccupazione giovanile

Youth is paying more than anyone else for something it is not responsible for, i.e. the crisis. In all aspects, the crisis is hitting hard young Europeans, not only in terms of unemployment. Budgets are slashed transversally, bot at the national and the EU level, not only shrinking investments but also decreasing drastically the quality of services to the citizens. Cuts in education and research are the most evident: what should be taken by policy-makers as a potential asset, is treated instead as an "externality" to be cut. This triggers a kind of vicious circle in the European economy. Training and education must be dealt with as a number one priority.

 

The role of policy-makers in tackling youth unemployment: who should do what?

 

Brando Benifei - Speaking notes

 

You have only 5 minutes for introductory remarks, to be repeated with different groups of participants.

 

Main ideas to be expressed are the following, which can be mixed/re-arranged according to the development of each discussion.

 

Youth is paying more than anyone else for something it is not responsible for, i.e. the crisis. In all aspects, the crisis is hitting hard young Europeans, not only in terms of unemployment. Budgets are slashed transversally, bot at the national and the EU level, not only shrinking investments but also decreasing drastically the quality of services to the citizens. Cuts in education and research are the most evident: what should be taken by policy-makers as a potential asset, is treated instead as an "externality" to be cut. This triggers a kind of vicious circle in the European economy. Training and education must be dealt with as a number one priority.

 

The EU has a role to play on this front. The EURO has been salvaged. Important and bold decisions were taken to avoid the collapse of the single currency, in particular working on its resilience and the shocks-absorbing measures. The achievement of a genuine European Monetary Union (EMU) and the completion of the three pillars of the Banking Union represent the most striking facts of such process. Nevertheless, this had a cost. First of all, a political cost. Member States had to publicly accept their need to take courageous joint measures to tackle the crisis, therefore ceding part of their sovereignty. The European Semester, for example, is a rather "invasive" ex-ante coordination instrument, which leaves many of EU governments unhappy - especially at the publication of the Country-Specific Recommendations. It is, however, the closest thing to a common economic and fiscal policy (desperately needed in the Eurozone) that we have. And clearly it is not sufficient. The pace of reforms and fiscal consolidation demanded is significant, and countries struggle to justify it to the electorate (governments and their parties are losing "points" everywhere, with few exceptions). Social costs, more importantly. The application of an economic doctrine only aiming towards fiscal consolidation and budgetary discipline, at all level of governance, is making unemployment rates at their highest; is creating major discrepancies across countries; is leading towards a 'generational clash' which enhances social discontent among the population; is making poverty, extreme poverty and social exclusion a rising phenomenon; it is responsible for the ever more difficulty for everyone, especially the most deprived, to access basic social services and therefore to have their fundamental rights respected. It is clear that the status quo is not an option anymore.

 

 

The Juncker Plan Agli stati il rigore, all'Europa lo sviluppo - said Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa. We must insist that the Juncker's extraordinary investment plan of 300 billion EUR, as indicated in his political platform "A Fresh Start for Europe", will take form in the first months of the new Commission's mandate; we must ensure that this money will be directed towards growth-friendly measures and high-quality jobs creation schemes; we must ensure that Youth unemployment is held as absolute #1 priority; we must ensure that Parliament is fully involved into the decision-making process for the definition of the plan's strategic orientation.

EU/EMU-wide measures. Although we have a single currency and a common market, we do not have common nor automatic measures to make our economy work properly. The macro-economic and social situation in the different countries of the EU and the Eurozone varies significantly, and no truly effective measures exist to tackle such divergences. A common fiscal policy, inserted in a federal system of governance where decisions are taken at the lowest possible level, and so-called macro-economic stabilisers should be put in place. In fact, one of the difficulties for the EU to operate in the fight against unemployment and in the creation of jobs is that it has no real legislative competence on these matters, which remain at the level of Member States. Schemes such as the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative, surely very welcome, nevertheless fail to address the depth of the problem, not just due to their budgetary shortfalls, but taken into account the quality of the measures concerned.

 

Free movement of workers should naturally be seen, given the circumstances, as a growing opportunity for all EU citizens, potentially turning the "mismatches" into possible internal labour mobility. Only 3.1% of internal working mobility exists in the EU (three times less than the US). This means that on the one hand mobility of workers must be increased (and protected!). On the other, it remains crucial to differentiate between voluntary and forced mobility, and to keep in mind very well that, given the significant dishomogeneity between macro-economic conditions across the EU, especially concerning wage levels, situations of social dumping and distortions to the functioning of the single market are an unfortunate reality. Useful improvements can be drawn from the strengthening of the collaboration between employment services. Commission has recently published a new proposal for a regulation on EURES, aiming at doing exactly this. It will not create new jobs, but surely a more rational and better coordinated action on this front can deliver important results. In EMPL we will soon discuss about this draft proposal (as it is a normal co-decision file).

 

General remarks. The results of the European elections show that there is a need for change demanded by the European citizens. The concerning increase in the ranks of fascists/anti-europeans/eurosceptics demonstrate a rather diffuse sense of disaffection with traditional political parties and their policy offer. The EU is blamed, too often, for the incapacity of individual member states to deliver the results needed. This is not a justification, however. The situation is overly dramatic, and needs a rapid and durable settlement. The EU finds itself, using a famous expression, between the rock and a hard place. Political impulse must come from Brussels. Our hopes were on the new Commission, but the proposed new structure as well as some of our names leaves us perplexed. Council is nowhere to be trusted, lost between excessive bureaucratic practices and minimal transparency. The European Council, too, only appears to be capable of "too little, too late" kind-of-responses, and the diplomacy logic driving its functioning does not meet the minimal democratic standards for a functioning political system. Besides, it is a "club" where the quality of membership is sometimes questionable. Therefore, a renewed political impulse should probably come from Parliament, although it seems weaker than ever and very, very conservative.