News / Europe

EU Leaders Meet on Youth Jobs but Solutions Elusive

French President Francois Hollande (C) arrives to attend a meeting with young people ahead of a European Union leaders conference to discuss ways of tackling youth unemployment at the Elysee palace in Paris, Nov. 12, 2013.
French President Francois Hollande (C) arrives to attend a meeting with young people ahead of a European Union leaders conference to discuss ways of tackling youth unemployment at the Elysee palace in Paris, Nov. 12, 2013.
Reuters
Soaring youth unemployment will top the agenda when France hosts a European jobs summit on Tuesday, but leaders will eschew radical proposals to tackle a problem that risks fueling social unrest and political extremism.

Nearly six million people under the age of 25 are without work in the European Union, with jobless rates among the young at close to 60 percent in Spain and Greece.

A July jobs summit in Berlin set out plans to devote at least 6 billion euros over the next two years to addressing the problem - a big headline figure that looks less impressive when spread among the many unemployment blackspots in the region.

French President Francois Hollande hosts a follow-up gathering of more than 20 EU leaders on Tuesday.

But with the leader of the euro zone's number two economy more unpopular than ever and bigger neighbor Germany still in political limbo following elections, conditions for advancing a potentially divisive debate could hardly be less favorable.

“The idea is to stay within what was set out in Berlin,” an adviser to Hollande said.

“The aim is not to add further programs but to fine-tune implementation of what has been decided,” the adviser said of measures that include a guarantee to provide a job or training opportunity for every youth unemployed for over four months.

That means the meeting is likely to skirt more controversial areas such as growing question marks over whether, given Germany's record trade surplus, Chancellor Angela Merkel is doing enough to nurture domestic demand and so help stimulate growth - and jobs - in the wider euro single currency zone.

Leaders are due to meet in the afternoon before a final news conference scheduled for 5:30 pm Paris time (1630 GMT).

Hollande has seen his popularity ratings plummet to a record low during France's 55-year-old Fifth Republic, with his failure to bring overall unemployment down from around 11 percent - and joblessness among youths from over double that - a major factor.

The French president has hitched his credibility on engineering a turnaround in the jobless trend by the end of the year, and increased state-funded jobs may help him create a short-term bounce.

But economists are skeptical on whether the underlying economy will allow any improvement to endure - a concern that applies equally to the spate of major infrastructure projects being overseen by many of Hollande's EU counterparts.

Worries over the ability of the French economy, weighed down by the need to finance high public spending, to generate sufficient growth was a factor behind ratings agency's move to downgrade France's sovereign debt for a second time last week.

The economy is forecast to have grown just 0.1 percent in the three months to September, though the Bank of France said on Tuesday it expected an improvement to 0.4 percent in the final quarter of 2013.

Germany in the spotlight ?

In a rare move to shine a critical spotlight on the policies of the larger German economy, the European Commission will decide this week whether to scrutinize Berlin's record surplus for economic imbalances.

International pressure has risen for Germany to do more to spur domestic demand, with criticism that its reliance on exports is hurting Europe's economic stability and the global economy.

Germany has so far brushed off the criticism, arguing it has more than halved its current account surplus with the euro zone as a share of gross domestic product since 2007.

Whether to introduce a minimum wage is one of the key sticking points in Merkel's talks to form a grand coalition with left-of-center Social Democrats who say the measure is a precondition for them entering government.

Concerns in France that some employees are being undercut on costs by countries with no minimum wage rules have been highlighted in recent weeks by a series of often violent protests in Brittany by food sector workers threatened by plant closures.

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs