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8 October – EU heads of states met on 8 October in Milan at the occasion of a Summit dedicated to employment, with a focus on youth employment. One of the aims of the Summit was to discuss the concrete release of the €6 billion promised by the Union to its member states to help them with the implementation of the Youth Guarantee. Junker’s €300 billion investment plan and growth in Europe were the other topics on the agenda.
The discussions at the summit emphasized the idea that the fight in favour of employment presupposes structural reforms on the side of the offer (i.e. the workforce) and an active support to the aggregated demand (i.e. the employers). Besides, EU leaders urged the Commission to reinforce its programmes, and to increase the pre-financing amounts.
The Summit took place in a tense atmosphere, shortly before the presentation of Eurozone countries’ draft budget to the European Commission. Therefore, it appeared to be more of a political and mediatised exercise, rather than a meeting where efficient decisions could have been taken (notably regarding the concrete actions to unblock European funds).
During the plenary meeting of 21 October in Strasbourg, MEPs held a debate on the outcomes of the Summit and expressed their disappointment. The Greens condemned what they perceive is a European obsession for structural reforms, even despite their failure. In all of their intervention, the GUE/NGL recalled the consequences of austerity measures on jobs, minimum wages and decent working conditions. They also consider that the Youth Guarantee concentrates on “youth employability”, putting citizens in the service of the economy, rather than the opposite. EPP and ALDE insisted on the necessity to use available resources to fight unemployment more effectively, before calling up to new ones. They advocate for the modernisation of the labour market, and the importance of matching knowledge and skills with the needs of the market. The S&D too denounced a meaningless meeting and Deputy Maria Arena (Belgium) suggested that action plans aiming at integrating the youth on the job market should be exempted from austerity measures.