Committee of Employment and Social affairs
Unemployment in the EU rose to 10.3% in the most recent April figures, as employers cut 102,000 jobs from their payrolls. Unemployment in the EU has not been this high since 2000, with many governments facing the double challenge of reducing both unemployment and budget deficits at the same time.
The Liberal and Democrat Group in the European Parliament (ALDE) today stressed the need for structural reform of the labour market to tackle unemployment and reach the EU2020 goals for smart, sustainable and inclusive jobs and growth.
Phil Bennion (UK Lib Dems), a member of the Employment committee, welcomed a resolution voted on today at the Parliament in Strasbourg, following on from the Employment package presented in April by the European Parliament.
He said: "The resolution passed today highlights the importance of improving the business environment for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) which are the cornerstone of employment within the EU - particularly through efforts to reduce the administrative burden on them.
"I'm also pleased that it touches on the need to support entrepreneurs and self starters in developing new businesses and social enterprises, which are vital to our global competiveness. There is a real focus on social enterprises and youth entrepreneurship, and this is something that I'd like to see more of, and will continue working to promote as much as possible within the Employment committee."
The unemployment problem is especially severe for young people across Europe, as 22.4% of those aged 24 or younger were jobless in the EU in April. More than half of young people in Greece and Spain are without regular work.
The ALDE coordinator of the Employment Committee Nadja Hirsch MEP (Germany, FDP) called for a swift implementation of the European Youth Guarantee to help job prospects for young people.
"It's all hands on deck to ensure that every young person in the EU is being offered a job or an apprenticeship or equivalent after a maximum of four months of inactivity. Member States should use the Youth Guarantee to fight youth unemployment, using non-committed EU structural funds to finance projects for young people."
Phil Bennion said he was glad that a number unrealistic amendments from socialist MEPs were rejected by Parliament.
"Once again the votes of Liberal MEPs were crucial today. A number of completely impractical amendments from socialist groups were defeated, one by only nine votes.
"Unemployment cannot be legislated out of existence, what EU governments need to do is follow the lead of people like the UK Business Secretary Vince Cable and make it easier for firms to take on more workers and strip away unnecessary regulations."
The Liberal ALDE group are also calling for more proactive policies to tackle the impact of rising unemployment on social exclusion, mental health, violence and crime. The MEPs want the Commission to continue to promote increased participation of women, young people and people with disabilities in the labour market.