Let’s act now, or risk losing a generation

  • economy

EUROCITIES politicians issue a declaration on work, expressing their political commitment to tackling Europe’s unemployment crisis.

The consequences of unemployment are concentrated in our cities, where 75% of Europe’s population lives. At the end of 2014, 24 million Europeans were unemployed, five million of whom were under the age of 25.

Youth unemployment is one of Europe’s most urgent challenges, but some of the resources intended to tackle it are not reaching those most in need. In our declaration, we call for the EU to work with cities and allocate some resources directly to cities to avoid bottlenecks and ensure that EU funds can really make a difference.

EUROCITIES politicians met Pierre Moscovici (pictured), European commissioner for economic and financial affairs, and other guest speakers, to discuss the role of cities and work this morning (26 February).

With Europe facing the very real threat of structural unemployment, our declaration highlights the need for genuine partnership between the EU, national and city governments to tackle this crisis. This approach corresponds to our vision for an EU urban agenda, as a framework that enables and empowers cities to help shape EU policies with an urban dimension.

Our declaration stresses that any actions designed to create jobs and stimulate active labour markets must make sense in the local context or they will not be effective. EUROCITIES president Johanna Rolland, mayor of Nantes, said that cities have "the local knowledge to make effective policies to get people back into work," but she also called for resources and support to turn these into a reality. 

Unemployment is not just an economic issue; it can have serious consequences for social cohesion. Pressure is building on local employment and social services, which are struggling in times of reduced public budgets. Cities are working to make labour markets more inclusive and address in-work poverty and unstable employment, but they need support to do so. 

Our vice president, Daniël Termont, mayor of Ghent, said that "results aren't coming quickly enough for our young people". He spoke about the risk of "losing a whole generation" and called for greater power and resources to be allocated directly to cities, as well as genuine partnership to shape solutions that work in the local context. 

The message from our politicians is clear: we need to act now, or we will face the consequences for generations to come. 

Read the EUROCITIES declaration on work at the link below.

Guests at the debate: Peter Ramsden, expert in local economic development; Pervenche Berès MEP, member of the committee on economic and monetary affairs; and Jan Willem Goudriaan, general secretary of the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU).