European countries draw plan to tackle youth-unemployment

2013-07-03 22:26:24 GMT2013-07-04 06:26:24(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BERLIN, July 3 (Xinhua) -- European leaders meeting in Berlin on Wednesday promised 24 billion euros (31.2 billion U.S. dollars) in order to curb the rampant youth unemployment across the continent.

"Boosting youth employment is a task and a goal that we all share," German chancellor Angela Merkel said at a joint press conference after hosting the summit of 18 European leaders aimed at combating the ever-growing number of Europeans under 25 without jobs.

Leaders attending the meeting include French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, as well as EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

European leaders also stressed the importance of beefing up further education and vocational training, just like the German dual education system, under which employees receive further following vocational training after they leave school.

Merkel called for European countries to attach greater importance to more efficient labour rules, as well as providing more chance of education and training opportunities to the youths.

"We want to put ourselves under a bit of pressure because we know we've raised certain expectations with today's conference," Merkel said.

The youth unemployment problem is particularly acute in south European countries as the jobless rate in Portugal stood at a record 17.7 percent and 42 percent of young people without a job.

The youth unemployment rates in Greece and Spain have neared 60 percent, and some 5.6 million young people under 25-year-old in the EU bloc are called a "lost generation" for poor prospect in their professional future.

"I don't think we've ever had a challenge like this in the history of European integration," Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, told the press conference, warning of a risk of "systemic failure" if the youth generation are estranged from the society.

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