France, Germany fine-tune youth jobs plan to fight crisis
Europe's two biggest economies France and Germany will Tuesday finetune a new plan to fight spiralling youth joblessness which has topped 50 percent in many countries of the crisis-ravaged eurozone.
The broad outlines could emerge after French President Francois Hollande holds talks with the German and French finance ministers Wolfgang Schaeuble and Pierre Moscovici.
The French and German labour ministers Michel Sapin and Ursula von der Leyen will also attend the Paris meeting.
Hollande on Tuesday called for an "offensive" saying: "We have to act immediately, six million youths are jobless in Europe" and "nearly 14 million are without work, not studying and are not apprentices."
"European institutions, the heads of state and government, France and Germany" agree that an action plan has to be implemented to combat soaring youth joblessness, he said, adding that it must be done on a war-footing.
Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have taken divergent stands on tackling the crisis. The French leader has urged less austerity while Merkel is pushing for cutting debt and bringing in labour market changes to create employment.
Hollande, who is under pressure to reform his recession-hit economy, is also facing the heat from the left wing of his Socialist party, which is strongly critical of Germany's influence on economic policy in the European Union, and indirectly on France.
Hollande last week said that France and Germany were working on a joint economic initiative to put to their EU partners at a June summit set to focus on boosting growth and jobs.
But he later urged a "path of unity" between Berlin and Paris to advance the European cause, especially against youth unemployment, and to fight populism and nationalism in Europe.
Germany's Rheinische Post daily earlier this month said the initiative to create jobs for the youth would see billions of euros (dollars) in loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to promote education, training and job placements for young people.
It called it a "New Deal" initiative -- after US president Franklin D. Roosevelt's Great Depression recovery plan -- to address fears of a lost generation, especially in Greece and Spain where almost two out of three young people are unemployed.
The newspaper said the blueprint builds on a six-billion-euro ($7.8 billion) initiative by the European Union to combat youth unemployment. That money could be leveraged and used as guarantees to raise up to 10 times more in loans, said the report.
Werner Hoyer, the president of the Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank, has said credits could be provided to companies creating jobs.
He said Germany's so-called dual system of formal education and on-the-job training could be introduced in southern Europe.
The European Commission said this month in a forecast that the euro-area economy will likely shrink for a second year while unemployment will rise to a record 12.2 percent.
A Eurostat report on April 30 said a total of 5.6 million people aged under 25 were unemployed in the 27-member European Union in March, of whom 3.5 million were from the eurozone.
© 2013 AFP