Sustained momentum needed to implement Youth Guarantee - Burton

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Sustained momentum needed to implement Youth Guarantee - Burton

The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D., has today (Thursday, June 20th, 2013) urged EU Member States to maintain the momentum behind the Youth Guarantee in order to ensure swift implementation to help unemployed young people across Europe.

The Minister was speaking in Luxembourg, where she co-chaired with the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton T.D., the final meeting of the Council of Employment and Social Protection Ministers (EPSCO) under the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU.

On behalf of ESPCO, Minister Burton will write to the President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, outlining the conclusions of today's meeting, including that funding allocated for youth unemployment initiatives, including the Guarantee, be front-loaded, and that concrete action plans be developed by all Member States by the end of the year.

Once implemented, the Guarantee will assure young people under the age of 25 a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed.

Agreement on a recommendation for an EU-wide Youth Guarantee was reached at February’s EPSCO Council meeting, and since then, Ireland has continued to drive the negotiations in a bid to ensure national youth guarantee systems can be quickly rolled out.

Minister Burton said: “Throughout Ireland's Presidency, I have prioritised the need to tackle the youth unemployment crisis, and I'm delighted that the issue is now at the very top of the EU agenda, and will be the subject of a high-level debate at the European Council next week.

“The Youth Guarantee represents a crucial part of the response to the crisis, and both the Council and Member States now need to maintain the momentum behind it.

“Funding will be key to the successful implementation of the Guarantee, with €6 billion already allocated and discussions ongoing about further funding mechanisms. I now intend to write to President van Rompuy to outline EPSCO's view that funding for youth employment initiatives, including the Guarantee, be front-loaded from 2014.

“Member States, for their part, need to move swiftly to devise action plans to implement the Guarantee, so that young people receive the work, training and educational opportunities they need.

“Across Europe right now, 5.5 million young people – one in five of those aged between 15 and 24 who are in the labour market – are without a job. Research evidence shows that spells of unemployment while young can have a permanent scarring effect on a person’s life. There is no time to lose in tackling this crisis and it is imperative that the momentum behind the Youth Guarantee now be maintained so that we give hope to Europe's youth and show that the EU is capable of delivering for them.”

Pension rights
Also at today's meeting, a significant breakthrough was made on the issue of supplementary pension rights for workers moving between Member States.

A general approach has now been agreed between Member States for a Directive on minimum requirements for enhancing worker mobility by improving the acquisition and preservation of supplementary pension rights.

This means that a person who leaves a supplementary pension scheme because he or she moves to another Member State will have enhanced protection for the pension rights they have already accumulated.

Supplementary pension schemes are those which supplement statutory social security entitlements such as state pensions. Occupational pensions are the most typical example of supplementary pensions.

Minister Burton said: “Agreement on a general approach to a Directive had been sought without success since 2005, when the European Commission made its original proposal on this issue. As such, today's agreement represents a very significant breakthrough, and I'm delighted that the Irish Presidency has been able to deliver it. It represents a major achievement for the Irish Presidency.

“State pensions earned in different Member States are already protected under regulations, which ensure that if a person works in more than one Member State, they do not lose out when it comes to their statutory social security pension entitlements.

“Occupational pensions enjoy only limited protection, however, and the proposal for a Directive in this area seeks to enhance those protections.

“Today's agreement envisages the Directive applying to cross-border workers in the first instance. This means that concerns about losing pension entitlements will no longer be an obstacle to freedom of movement of workers.”

Social Investment Package
Member States today also agreed conclusions on the Social Investment Package published by the European Commission in February, and on which the Minister held a major conference in Leuven, Belgium, in May.

Minister Burton said: “Up until recently, the EU response to the economic crisis has largely been a fiscal one. I have long argued there has to be a social response too. It's not enough to simply navigate our way out of the economic storm if we leave millions of people behind fending for themselves. That is where the Social Investment Package comes in. It will ensure stronger social protection systems in Member States, and investment in key areas, such as employment, education, childcare and combating poverty.

“The goal of the Package is to focus on investing in people's skills and capabilities and to ensure that strong welfare systems are in place to prevent against hardship and protect citizens at vulnerable times in their lives, whether it's because of a spell of unemployment, illness or similar. It would go hand in hand with an economic approach based on jobs, investment and growth.”

The package works on a number of principles:

  • making sure that social protection is adequate and sustainable;
  • strengthening people’s opportunities to participate in society and in the labour market;
  • integration of services;
  • investing in children and young people;
  • independence for people with disabilities; and
  • more equal opportunities for women.

The presentation of this Package is very important in that it highlights the crucial role social policy has to play as the EU moves forward.  The social dimension of the crisis has been one of the consistent themes during Ireland’s Presidency – the absolute need for an enhanced social dimension to economic decisions.

Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived
The objective of this proposed new fund is to combat deprivation by providing basic supplies to those in greatest need, especially in light of the continued economic crisis and increasing poverty throughout the EU. The European Commission submitted this proposal in October 2012. Since then it has been a priority issue, both for the Irish Presidency in the Council, and in the European Parliament. The proposal under consideration would set out the funding basis for the programme over the period 2014 to 2020 in the context of the wider EU budget, or Multi-annual Financial Framework [MFF].

Minister Burton today updated her colleagues on the progress made in the negotiations under the Irish Presidency. While it has not been possible in the time available to reach an agreement acceptable to the Member States, substantial progress has been made and negotiations will continue on the lines set out under the Irish Presidency.

Presidency Overview
Reflecting on the social protection aspects of Ireland's Presidency, Minister Burton said: “We have successfully reached agreement on three of my main priorities - namely the Youth Guarantee, the Social Investment Package and the Pension Portability Directive - and achieved substantial progress on the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived. These measures will benefit millions of people across the EU, and the crucial issue now is that they be implemented as swiftly as possible.”


Last modified:20/06/2013