“7.5 million Europeans between the ages of 15 and 24 are neither employed nor in education/training.”
This reality seems to be symptomatic for the dramatic living and working conditions the European youth is facing since the economic and financial crisis triggered an even deeper European crisis, not just within Eurozone countries.
From my own experience respectively that of fellow young professionals in London I can confirm first-hand how tough the job market has become which to be honest I did not even get to know any differently myself but can conclude by what I am told by older colleagues.
And this is London; so what must the situation be like in Spain or let alone Greece where the youth unemployment rate lies well over 50 % respectively even 70%?
Why are those numbers shocking?
They are shocking because they imply lost opportunities for in some countries even more than half of the young generation which is supposed to take the lead in our society in only a few years.
Meanwhile, they young get deeply frustrated, not only because a lack of employment obviously means a lack of money and therefore normal living conditions.
But also because a lack of work, be it education or a professional occupation, means a lack of a sense of purpose, personal fulfillment and therefore quality of life.
Some experts and ironically even some from the US therefore speak of a “lost generation” in Europe.
This is obviously worsened by scapegoating “Europe” or “the EU” for intrinsic societal and national government failures which led to the current situation in the first place and are first of all national responsibilities and should be named and treated as such.
And this is not only a phenomenon in Greece, as it becomes crystal-clear in the Greek crisis right now, but just as much in the UK. Here not only Nigel Farage tries to pretend that, for instance, migration is the cause for problems which are actually resulting from general national infrastructure problem regardless of migrants.
We in the Young European Movement do not accept youth unemployment as a given fact. We believe something can and must change about this. As far as politics is concerned, we certainly believe that a first step is giving a voice to the young people whose future in Europe is actually decided on right now and this implies a vote for 16- and 17-year olds in the upcoming referendum on EU membership in the UK.
By Bettina Wolff (President of YEM UK)