Luxembourg, 16 July 2015. Youth unemployment, which has been identified as a major political, economic and social challenge in the Euro-Mediterranean region, was at the heart of discussions at the Informal Meeting of EU Ministers for Employment, their Maghreb (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia) counterparts and stakeholders. The event took place on 16 July and was organised by the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Along with the 20 ministers present, the UfM Secretariat attended the informal meeting, as did the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, the World Bank Group and the International Labour Organization.
In his speech, Claudio Cortese, Senior Deputy Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean, said that “Tackling youth unemployment and economic regional integration are the major challenges in the region. Therefore, concrete actions, tangible results on the ground and projects with a real impact on citizens’ wellbeing are paramount.” He moved on to say that, “For this reason, it is crucial that all the different actors, initiatives and cooperation schemes operating in the region coordinate their actions. We must then make full use of the synergies and complementarities between all stakeholders.”
Discussions at the various sessions focused on social affairs within the governance framework of the EU; policies and programmes aimed at addressing youth unemployment and job creation in the region; and an initiative, proposed by the Luxembourg Presidency, for youth employment through vocational training in the Maghreb countries.
The meeting was a follow-up to the UfM’s mandate for action on employment, employability and decent work in the region. In this context, the Secretariat of the UfM has developed its flagship initiative, Med4Jobs, to help increase employability for young people and women, close the gap between labour demand and supply, and foster a culture of entrepreneurship and private sector development in the region. This is a cross-sector initiative – driven by the need for an integrated regional strategy in terms of job creation – and designed to establish a programme of job creation projects and serve as a platform for employment.
Since the global economic crisis began, youth employment prospects have continued to deteriorate worldwide, in developed, transition and developing countries alike. With an average of just over 28% of the youth labour force currently out of work, the Middle East and North Africa is the region with the highest youth unemployment rate.