Heads of state of 24 European nations have met to discuss rising unemployment among European youths, insisting that the situation will improve over the next two years.
The leaders, who met in Paris on Tuesday, announced no new programmes but pledged to push plans already in place to reverse the rising joblessness for the under 25’s.
With budgets still tight and austerity measures in place, Europe’s youth unemployment rate stands at 23.5 percent, up from 23.1 percent a year ago.
A total of 7.5 million aged 15 to 24 are neither in work, education or training.
Europe has 45 billion euros ($60b) between 2013 and 2015 to tackle youth unemployment.
French President Francois Hollande said the meeting had set a strategy to ensure that by 2015, no youth will spend more than four months unemployed without being offered a job, an apprenticeship, training or education.
“We must act quickly because it is urgent, we cannot abandon a generation,” Hollande said at a news conference.
Hollande said the leaders agreed that European Union nations which have action plans to combat youth unemployment by the end of the year will begin drawing upon the 6 billion euro ($8bn) Youth Employment Initiative that the EU has set aside beginning on January 1.
As of 2011, only 34 percent of 15-29 year-olds in Europe were employed, the lowest figure ever recorded.
However, the EU employment figure masks huge disparities. Germany’s youth unemployment rate stands at 7.7 percent whilst Greece’s is 57.3 percent.
Seven EU countries had a youth jobless rate over 30 percent, fueling concern that a generation of people will be locked out of the job market, hurting long-term growth prospects for their nations.
One EU think-tank estimated that the cost to Europe of employing so few of its young people reached 153 billion euros annually as of 2011.