Martedì, 18 Settembre 2018
BRUSSELS

Youth unemployment at EU summit a triumph for Letta

English
© ANSA

(By Christopher Livesay)
Brussels, May 22 - Italian Premier Enrico Letta
triumphed at a European Union summit in Brussels Wednesday where
he successfully pushed to make youth unemployment the central
focus of the following June EU summit.
Letta was speaking after making his debut on the European
stage in an extraordinary European Council focusing on energy
policy and fighting tax evasion.
"I'm very satisfied that European Council President Herman
Van Rompuy has agreed to our proposal for the fight on youth
unemployment to be the main issue at the next Council in June,"
Letta said.
"The unemployment data confirms that we are on the right
road. Unemployment is the nightmare of our time and if there are
no answers, there is no credibility in Europe's policies and
institutions".
On the same day, national statistics agency Istat reported
that Italy has Europe's highest proportion of young people doing
"nothing", with almost a quarter of 15-to-29-year-olds not in
education, employment or training (NEET).
Unemployment for youths under 25 topped 38% earlier this
year.
In addition to a victory for his fledgling left-right
government, the successful push to put youth job-creation front
and center on the next EU summit agenda was seen by some as a
coup for the 46-year-old center-left premier.
Letta compared his EU debut to a "baptism".
The premier, who was sworn in at the helm of an
unprecedented left-right coalition government last month, says
he will present a plan to help boost job creation at the
upcoming summit.
Going into the summit he criticized the EU for not backing
up its words on solving youth unemployment with strong actions
and moving rapidly to invest its energy into "policies for
growth and jobs".
Solving the crisis of rising youth unemployment must be an
"absolute" priority, both for the economy and for the EU's
credibility, he told the Senate Tuesday.
"The EU is in a crisis of legitimacy over the lack of
results (on previous promises to deal with joblessness among
European youth)".
The upcoming summit is also due to address growth in the
eurozone.
Italy, which is experiencing its worst recession in at
least four decades, is shifting its attention to stimulating
growth as the effects of austerity are increasingly blamed for
the shrinking economy.
With that in mind, Letta made the case before the House
Tuesday that creating jobs and stimulating investment could be
achieved if the European Union granted governments more room to
maneuver within its budget rules.
The EU at its June summit "must recognize spaces (needed)
to maneuver national public finances in order to enable member
States to invest adequate resources into active labor policies,
reducing taxes on labor and creating jobs for young people," he
said.
Italy recently forecast its deficit-to-GDP ratio will be
2.9% this year, taking it under the 3% threshold permitted by
the EU.
Letta's government is hoping to convince the European
Commission to end the excessive-deficit procedure it has against
Italy this month or early in June.
Letta's opinion of the summit Wednesday was positive.
"I found the exchange and the discussion on various themes
very pleasant and profound," he said.
Most of the talks focused on fighting tax evasion, with
MEPs calling for a joint EU blacklist of tax havens for
multinational companies and rich executives.
Even Austria, despite its reputation for banking secrecy,
joined the call for a crackdown.
Letta said that an extraordinary meeting of EU labour
ministers focusing on youth unemployment will take place in
Berlin in July.
He also said that Van Rompuy will come to Rome on May 31 to
discuss this problem.

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