Official statistics show that the rate of out-of-work young people across Europe is more than twice as high as it is for adults, and does not appear to be getting better. In countries such as Greece and Spain, at least one in every two young people is jobless.
The European Union has pledged to spend eight billion euros between 2014 and 2020 on tackling youth joblessness, and EU leaders have agreed to spend the first six billion over a two year period starting in 2014. The Lords Committee will scrutinise the EU plan, asking if the money is being spent wisely.
While the Committee will primarily focus its investigation on whether the EU is adding any value through its initiatives, it will also take a close look at the wider issues of the growing number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) across the region and ask if the voice of the unemployed is being heard.
The Committee will ask a range of questions, such as:
- How can the EU best spend its funds designated to tackle youth unemployment?
- How can the EU determine if EU-funded projects have been successful or not?
- What say do young people have on the funding of employment projects?
- How should the EU respond to youth migration and the potential for ‘brain drain’ from countries with high unemployment?
- Can the EU embrace new technologies and methods of working to address youth unemployment?
The Committee Chairman, Baroness O’Cathain, said:
"The soaring joblessness in Europe is one of the most visible and damaging effects of the economic crisis, and the desperately bleak picture in some countries is a real cause for concern. Thus the EU’s pledge to tackle youth unemployment is crucial. But how effective is their plan of action?
"In this inquiry our Committee will delve deeper into the European Union’s plans in this area. We will ask whether the EU is doing enough, we will ask whether tackling youth joblessness is really at the top of the EU to-do list or languishing at the bottom, and we will ask whether the EU investment plan is a vital measure to secure future growth or just a short-term fix.
"We will also aim to establish if young people themselves are actively involved in shaping policy, and if their voice is being heard by those at the helm.
"We welcome contributions from everyone who knows about this issue. My Committee, which brings together a wide range of experience, depends on knowledgeable people giving us the benefit of their expertise. Together we hope to make a real contribution to this important subject."
Written evidence must be submitted online by Monday 21 October. The Committee aims to issue its report on the inquiry next year.