Brussels Conference on Afghanistan: realising Afghanistan's economic potential and reinforcing the role of woman

MIL OSI – Source: European Union – Press Release/Statement

Headline: Brussels Conference on Afghanistan: realising Afghanistan's economic potential and reinforcing the role of woman

With the overall aim of generating international support for the Afghan reform process and ensuring continued international political and financial support to bolster Afghanistan’s economic stability, development and state-building processes over the next four years, the two-day Brussels Conference on Afghanistan is bringing together leaders from more than 70 countries worldwide, 20 international organisations and agencies, and a vast range of stakeholders. A self-reliant, prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan is a priority for the European Union, Afghanistan, its neighbours and the international community at large.

Empowered Women, Prosperous Afghanistan
The first event of the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan brought together high-level participants and panellists from across the international community, including the First Lady of Afghanistan, Rula Ghani. They discussed the ways and means of empowering Afghan women to build a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, as well as reinforcing the political and human rights of Afghan women and how to realise those rights in everyday life.
“The empowerment of women is not only a matter of human rights and social justice; it is also about development; it is about human growth; it’s about security; it is about fulfilling the potential of Afghanistan”, said the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini. “A commitment towards women is a commitment towards stronger, richer and more just societies and as the European Union we are supporting this process both politically and as the biggest financial contributor to the country’s new National Action Plan for Women”, she added.
The event featured many high-level participants and speakers, including the welcome address by the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, as well as speeches by the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, and the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani. Senior officials in the Afghan Government and civil service, representatives of the international community, including civil society, business, and academia, as well as other key stakeholders also took part.
Participants took stock of developments in the country over the last decade, and concluded that while many positive changes have occurred in the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan, further improvement of the situation of Afghan women is essential for the country’s development and should remain a priority. In this context, the Government of Afghanistan outlined its plans for increasing women’s participation in society and the economy, while the international community present, and notably the European Union, affirmed its commitment to supporting the authorities in their efforts.

Regional Integration and Prosperity
The Regional Economic Cooperation event brought together traditional and new donors to emphasise the importance of political support and economic integration at the regional level. Representatives from around the world, including Afghanistan’s regional partner countries, as well as the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, other multilateral organisations and representatives of the Afghan private sector discussed how best to mobilise support for projects with a regional impact and how to promote regional trade and development by linking policy reforms, infrastructure and regional connectivity.
Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, stressed: “We all have much to gain from a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. By building better regional infrastructure, respecting the rule of law and fostering a business-friendly environment, Afghanistan – and its regional partners – can become a vibrant regional economic hub. Today’s discussions are timely to identify and cultivate the common regional economic interests of Afghanistan and its neighbours. Afghan women can be the key to a prosperous Afghanistan – it is exactly their enormous potential that can make all the difference. Therefore we must create the conditions that will enable women to have equal access to land, resources and finances, and to become full participants in every aspect of the economy.”
Participants stressed that regional economic cooperation can create win-win results but requires dedicated, long-term and reliable partnerships. This is especially true for regional infrastructure where financial investments, also by new partners, will begin to pay off in the years to come.
Background
In close coordination with Afghanistan’s international partners, the European Union is engaged with the Afghan Government to fight corruption, improve oversight, enable economic growth, reduce poverty and strengthen democratic institutions. The European Union’s partnership with Afghanistan includes a results-oriented dialogue on human rights, especially the rights of women and children, as well as a dialogue on migration. Gender mainstreaming is a crucial component of the EU’s assistance: 53% of EU programmes have gender equality as a significant objective.
The European Union also strongly supports regional cooperation and economic integration as key elements of sustainable inclusive economic development, inter-connectivity and stability. Since 2004, EU support to regional cooperation amounts to more than €88 million. Key areas of intervention include border management, capacity building for regional cooperation and railways, as well strengthening the capacities of trade-related institutions. The EU further supports a regional United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) programme in the field of counter-narcotics.

For more information
The Brussels Conference on Afghanistan: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/international-summit/2016/10/05/
Press release on new financial assistance to the Afghan Government in the form of a State-building contract: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-3269_en.htm
Website of European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/2014-2019/mimica_en
European Union Delegation to Afghanistan: https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/afghanistan_en
EU-Afghanistan relations factsheet: https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/afghanistan/10740/eu-afghanistan-relations_en
EU – Afghanistan development cooperation: https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/countries/afghanistan_en

Press release – MEPs call for Commissioners’ code of conduct to be tightened up

MIL OSI – Source: European Union – Press Release/Statement

Headline: Press release – MEPs call for Commissioners’ code of conduct to be tightened up

The code of conduct for European Commissioners needs to be thoroughly tightened up, in order to prevent conflicts of interest for Commission members, and to help restore the faith of European citizens in today’s political institutions. This was the key message agreed by most MEPs during Tuesday evening’s debate with EU economic affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, on the business ties of past and present Commissioners and the recent “Bahamas” leaks.
“The Commission wants all EU citizens to be assured that its Commissioners act exclusively in the interests of Europe. Any conflict of interest therefore needs to be avoided, and there are very strict rules for this already in place. But the rules should also go hand in hand with personal responsibility. The Commission is therefore looking into whether these issues can be addressed further”, said Mr Moscovici.
Many MEPs pointed out that the recent “Bahamas” leaks, which showed that former Dutch competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes did not declare her directorship of an offshore firm in the Bahamas while serving in Brussels, came as a serious blow to EU citizens, who are already losing faith in the “political elites and institutions”.
They called for a radical tightening up of the code of conduct for EU Commissioners, but also for the “cooling off period” before former Commissioners may join the private sector to be prolonged, clear penalties and sanctions to be introduced for obvious infringements of the rules and for the Commission’s Ad Hoc Ethics Committee to be made an independent body, able to take final decisions on suitable jobs for former Commissioners.
Background information
Former Commission President José Manuel Barroso has also been criticised this summer for taking up a post with the investment bank Goldman Sachs, as the non-executive chairman of its London-based international operations, the bank’s largest subsidiary.
 
This move has prompted an intervention by the EU Ombudsman.

Brussels Conference on Afghanistan: realising Afghanistan's economic potential and reinforcing the role of women

MIL OSI – Source: European Union – Press Release/Statement

Headline: Brussels Conference on Afghanistan: realising Afghanistan's economic potential and reinforcing the role of women

With the overall aim of generating international support for the Afghan reform process and ensuring continued international political and financial support to bolster Afghanistan’s economic stability, development and state-building processes over the next four years, the two-day Brussels Conference on Afghanistan is bringing together leaders from more than 70 countries worldwide, 20 international organisations and agencies, and a vast range of stakeholders. A self-reliant, prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan is a priority for the European Union, Afghanistan, its neighbours and the international community at large.

Empowered Women, Prosperous Afghanistan
The first event of the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan brought together high-level participants and panellists from across the international community, including the First Lady of Afghanistan, Rula Ghani. They discussed the ways and means of empowering Afghan women to build a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, as well as reinforcing the political and human rights of Afghan women and how to realise those rights in everyday life.
“The empowerment of women is not only a matter of human rights and social justice; it is also about development; it is about human growth; it’s about security; it is about fulfilling the potential of Afghanistan”, said the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini. “A commitment towards women is a commitment towards stronger, richer and more just societies and as the European Union we are supporting this process both politically and as the biggest financial contributor to the country’s new National Action Plan for Women”, she added.
The event featured many high-level participants and speakers, including the welcome address by the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini, as well as speeches by the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, and the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani. Senior officials in the Afghan Government and civil service, representatives of the international community, including civil society, business, and academia, as well as other key stakeholders also took part.
Participants took stock of developments in the country over the last decade, and concluded that while many positive changes have occurred in the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan, further improvement of the situation of Afghan women is essential for the country’s development and should remain a priority. In this context, the Government of Afghanistan outlined its plans for increasing women’s participation in society and the economy, while the international community present, and notably the European Union, affirmed its commitment to supporting the authorities in their efforts.

Regional Integration and Prosperity
The Regional Economic Cooperation event brought together traditional and new donors to emphasise the importance of political support and economic integration at the regional level. Representatives from around the world, including Afghanistan’s regional partner countries, as well as the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, other multilateral organisations and representatives of the Afghan private sector discussed how best to mobilise support for projects with a regional impact and how to promote regional trade and development by linking policy reforms, infrastructure and regional connectivity.
Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, stressed: “We all have much to gain from a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. By building better regional infrastructure, respecting the rule of law and fostering a business-friendly environment, Afghanistan – and its regional partners – can become a vibrant regional economic hub. Today’s discussions are timely to identify and cultivate the common regional economic interests of Afghanistan and its neighbours. Afghan women can be the key to a prosperous Afghanistan – it is exactly their enormous potential that can make all the difference. Therefore we must create the conditions that will enable women to have equal access to land, resources and finances, and to become full participants in every aspect of the economy.”
Participants stressed that regional economic cooperation can create win-win results but requires dedicated, long-term and reliable partnerships. This is especially true for regional infrastructure where financial investments, also by new partners, will begin to pay off in the years to come.
Background
In close coordination with Afghanistan’s international partners, the European Union is engaged with the Afghan Government to fight corruption, improve oversight, enable economic growth, reduce poverty and strengthen democratic institutions. The European Union’s partnership with Afghanistan includes a results-oriented dialogue on human rights, especially the rights of women and children, as well as a dialogue on migration. Gender mainstreaming is a crucial component of the EU’s assistance: 53% of EU programmes have gender equality as a significant objective.
The European Union also strongly supports regional cooperation and economic integration as key elements of sustainable inclusive economic development, inter-connectivity and stability. Since 2004, EU support to regional cooperation amounts to more than €88 million. Key areas of intervention include border management, capacity building for regional cooperation and railways, as well strengthening the capacities of trade-related institutions. The EU further supports a regional United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) programme in the field of counter-narcotics.

For more information
The Brussels Conference on Afghanistan: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/international-summit/2016/10/05/
Press release on new financial assistance to the Afghan Government in the form of a State-building contract: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-3269_en.htm
Website of European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/2014-2019/mimica_en
European Union Delegation to Afghanistan: https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/afghanistan_en
EU-Afghanistan relations factsheet: https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/afghanistan/10740/eu-afghanistan-relations_en
EU – Afghanistan development cooperation: https://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/countries/afghanistan_en

Speech by Commissioner Thyssen on the report highlighting progress made by Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative, as well as a proposal to review the Europass Framework

MIL OSI – Source: European Union – Press Release/Statement

Headline: Speech by Commissioner Thyssen on the report highlighting progress made by Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative, as well as a proposal to review the Europass Framework

Good afternoon. Ladies and gentlemen, you know that growth and jobs – and particularly youth employment – are at the heart of our agenda since the start of the Juncker Commission. When we started there were 5 million young people out of a job in Europe. We cannot allow that a whole generation of young people is being left behind. We need to do everything it takes to give them opportunities and a fair chance in life.
This is why Member States adopted the Youth Guarantee three years ago, supported by a dedicated EU fund – the Youth Employment.
When I started almost two years ago I remember vividly how the Youth Guarantee had been widely criticised in the press, how many people were saying that these are just empty words and promises. The start was short of easy and of course tackling youth unemployment is nothing the Commission can solve on its own.
Today I am here to tell you: the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative work. Our efforts are bearing fruit.
The report on the first years of the Youth Guarantee looks in detail into what has been achieved so far. And while we are by far not at the end of the road, I am convinced that we are driving in the right direction.
Let me give you a few key figures from the report. In 2014 and 2015:
14 million young people registered in the Youth Guarantee scheme
9 million young people took up an offer
At any point in time, about 2 million young people in the scheme.
To date, Youth Employment Initiative actions have supported over 1,4 million young people
And these are only the hard numbers. Much of the work that has been done is about structural reforms. The Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative are drivers for important structural reforms: Member States are adapting their Vocational Education and Training Systems to increase the number of quality apprenticeships and revamping their Public Employment Services. Structural reforms take time, so much of the fruit we will only be seeing in the coming years.
However, we already see some encouraging trends now. And it is undeniable that the Youth Guarantee has also played its role in this context. Today we see:
1.4 million fewer young unemployed in the EU since 2013,
900.000 fewer young people not in employment, education or training (NEET).
the youth employment rate is on the rise again, and it rises faster than the general employment rate
But today it also time to draw lessons from the data and look at the challenges ahead. More efforts need to be made to reach out to low-skilled youth and those furthest away from the labour market. There is also room to further improve the quality of the offers and services provided to young people in many Member States.
So we must keep up our political commitment to youth employment. From the Commission’s side, we want to continue supporting Member States, and particularly the hardest hit regions.
That’s why we have proposed to further boost the Youth Employment Initiative with € 2 billion for 2017-2020. This will make it possible to support 1 million more young people until 2020 in Member States most affected by youth unemployment.
Let me turn to our second topic today, which is also part of our agenda to create more and better job opportunities for people: the proposal to revise the Europass Decision. This proposal seeks to simplify and modernise EU tools and services for skills and qualifications.
It is part of the New Skills Agenda for Europe that I presented in June. In a fast-changing global economy, skills determine Europe’s competitiveness and the capacity to drive innovation.
Thanks to the new Europass Framework, people will be able to identify and communicate their skills and qualifications in an easier and more user-friendly way. One of the services offered will be an improved tool for creating CVs and skills profiles. Users will also be able to access information on learning opportunities and guidance through the new Europass.
The new Europass Framework will also allow an easier exchange of information, by being compatible with other services across the labour, education and training systems.
Europass will not stand still: it will continue to evolve in line with users’ needs and make best use of technology.
The revised Europass will be an efficient tool to match the wishes and needs of job-seekers and employers.
Youth in Europe needs to stay a fundamental priority for us. This was just recently reaffirmed by the Heads of State and Government in Bratislava. I will do everything I can to give each and every young person in the EU the opportunities they deserve. Thank you.

Press release – MEPs to debate EU-Russia relations, CETA, TTIP, and migration ahead of EU summit

MIL OSI – Source: European Union – Press Release/Statement

Headline: Press release – MEPs to debate EU-Russia relations, CETA, TTIP, and migration ahead of EU summit

Ongoing talks on trade deals such as TTIP and CETA, future EU-Russia relations and latest developments regarding relocation of migrants to achieve a fair distribution in all EU member states will top the agenda of the 20-21 October meeting of heads of states or governments in Brussels.
In a debate with Slovak Secretary of State Korčok representing the Council Presidency and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, MEPs will outline their political views on these and related issues on Wednesday from 9.00 to 11.30.
You can watch the debate live via EP Live and EbS+
Debate: Wednesday, 5 October – 09.00-11.00

Statement by the Spokesperson on the decision of the Belarus Supreme Court to uphold the death sentence against Siarhei

MIL OSI – Source: European Union – Press Release/Statement

Headline: Statement by the Spokesperson on the decision of the Belarus Supreme Court to uphold the death sentence against Siarhei

Today, 4 October, the Belarusian Supreme Court upheld the death sentence against Siarhei Vostrykau. This is the fourth confirmation by the Belarusian Supreme Court of a death sentence in 2016. It follows the execution of Syarhey Iwanow in April as well as two other death sentences this year.The European Union reaffirms its strong opposition to capital punishment. The death penalty is an inhumane and degrading treatment, does not have any proven deterrent effect, and makes judicial errors irreversible. The continued application of capital punishment runs counter to Belarus’ stated willingness to consider the introduction of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. This is also a commitment made by Belarus in response to recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Council in the Universal Periodic Review.Belarus, the only country in Europe still applying capital punishment, should introduce a moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards its abolition.

Press release – Contrasting views on the state of Greece's adjustment programme

MIL OSI – Source: European Union – Press Release/Statement

Headline: Press release – Contrasting views on the state of Greece's adjustment programme

MEPs voiced startlingly different views on the state of Greece’s economic adjustment programme, its impact and the prospects for future negotiations between Greece and its creditors, in a public debate with Commissioner Pierre Moscovici on Tuesday afternoon.
Commissioner Moscovici kicked off the debate on a positive note, going through a long list of reforms that have been pushed through, inter alia in the pension sector and the banking sector, which, he said, “has returned to stability”.
Some MEPs praised the Greek government for having taken difficult decisions and said the Greek people deserve respect for coping with the ongoing painful reforms in their country. Others countered that the Greek government is not doing enough to actually implement the reforms that were agreed on paper and urged the Euro group and Greece to agree on a serious and credible reform programme.
MEPs differed on the economic outlook, too. Some pointed to the improved growth forecasts for next year and the primary budget surplus, whereas others pointed out that the state debt is still growing. Some portrayed Greece as an example of the failure of the single currency, which they said “needs to be abolished” whereas others made the case for debt relief.
You can watch the debate here
Parliament has been involved in the scrutiny of Greece’s financial assistance programme, notably through its Financial Assistance Working Group led by Roberto Gualtieri (S&D, IT).
Background on the Financial Assistance Working Group
On 21 January 2016, the European Parliament Conference of Presidents (EP President and political group leaders) approved a series of measures to increase the parliamentary scrutiny of financial assistance programmes at EU level. These measures included creating a Financial Assistance Working Group (FAWG) within the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, and fact-finding missions in programme countries.

A New Europass Framework: helping people make their skills and qualifications more visible

MIL OSI – Source: European Union – Press Release/Statement

Headline: A New Europass Framework: helping people make their skills and qualifications more visible

Today, the Commission has adopted a proposal to revise the Europass Decision. Europass is a suite of tools and services which support the transparency of skills and qualifications across the European Union. With this revision, the Commission aims to simplify and modernise these tools for the digital age and to add a new feature using big data to map and anticipate labour market trends and skills needs.
Europe’s prosperity depends upon our most valuable asset – our people. In a fast-changing global economy, it is people’s skills which will be a motor for our competitiveness and growth. Europass is one of Europe’s most used and well-known skills resources. Since it was established in 2005, more than 60 million Europass CVs have been created and hundreds of thousands of learners across the EU receive Diploma and Certificate Supplements every year which help to make their qualifications more readable and easily comparable abroad; backed-up with advice and support services on the ground in Member States.
The new Europass Framework will build upon this successful formula with easy to use tools to help people identify and communicate their skills and qualifications in all EU languages. These include an improved online tool for creating CVs and skills profiles, free self-assessment tools to help you evaluate your skills, tailored information on learning opportunities across Europe, and information and support to help you get your qualifications recognised as well as labour market intelligence about what skills are most in demand and where. The new Europass Framework will also link with other EU tools and services across labour and education and training systems, such as the EURES job mobility portal, allowing for an easier exchange of information and more joined-up services for end-users.National support centres will continue to offer individual advice and guidance to help people navigate the skills and qualifications landscape.
Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, stated: “Skills are a pathway to prosperity and the key to good quality jobs. With the right skills people can fulfil their potential as confident, active citizens in the changing world of work. The new Europass Framework will give people tools to showcase their skills and qualifications in a user-friendly way and access to information and support services to inform their choices about study and work across Europe.”
The revision is part of the New Skills Agenda for Europe, presented on 10 June 2016.
Background
The Europass framework
The single European framework for the transparency of qualifications, Europass, was established by the Decision 2241/2004/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 15 December 2004.
The overall objective of the initiative is to support the mobility of people in Europe, including for education and employment purposes. It increases awareness of and access to tools which make skills and qualifications visible and easy to understand amongst learners, job-seekers, employees and employers, and education and training institutions among others.
At the core of the existing Europass Framework is a portfolio of documents:
the Europass Curriculum Vitae (CV) completed by any individual to report on his/her qualifications, professional experience, skills and competences;
the Europass Language Passport (ELP) completed by any individual to report on her/his language skills;
the Europass Certificate Supplement (ECS) issued by vocational educational and training authorities to their students along with their award certificates adding information to make certificates more easily understandable especially by employers or institutions outside the issuing country;
the Europass Diploma Supplement (EDS) issued by higher education institutions to their graduates along with their degree or diploma to make these educational qualifications more easily understandable, especially outside the country where they were awarded;
the Europass Mobility Document (EMD) for recording any organised period of learning or training time that a person spends in another European country, completed by the home and host organisations.
Since 2005, Europass has had more than 126 million website visits; over 93 million document templates have been downloaded while more than 60 million Europass CVs, by far the most popular tool, have been created online.
An evaluation of the Europass Framework carried out in 2013 highlighted its achievements. Europass documents have been taken up by all groups of stakeholders and have helped people change their job or location (CV, Language Passport and Certificate Supplement were all reported to be instrumental in this by more than 60% of their surveyed users) and gain learning opportunities such as admission to educational institutions (46% of Certificate Supplement users, 50% of Language Passport users, and smaller proportions of surveyed users of other documents).
Moreover, Europass played an important role in mobility within the same country (40% of surveyed users were mobile in their home country). The documents have become widely used within countries such as Italy and Spain, which display above average usage rates of the CV, while in France the Europass Mobility Document has been adapted for use by individuals to profile their own skills.
Useful links
See also MEMO/16/3212
Homepage of Commissioner Thyssen
Follow Marianne Thyssen on Facebook and twitter
Subscribe to the European Commission’s free e-mail newsletter on employment, social affairs and inclusion

Commission report highlights progress of the Youth Guarantee and of the Youth Employment Initiative

MIL OSI – Source: European Union – Press Release/Statement

Headline: Commission report highlights progress of the Youth Guarantee and of the Youth Employment Initiative

Today, the European Commission adopted a Communication that highlights the main achievements of the Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) since their launch in 2013 and draws lessons on how to improve the EU and national efforts on deploying national Youth Guarantee schemes. Last year, this Commission took measures to accelerate the implementation of the Youth Guarantee by increasing the pre-financing of the Youth Employment Initiative. In his State of the Union speech of 14 September 2016, President Juncker stressed his commitment to “continue to roll out the Youth Guarantee across Europe, improving the skillset of Europeans and reaching out to the regions and young people most in need.”
Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, said: “The Youth Guarantee is now a reality across Europe and the financial support the EU delivers will be crucial to continue to support Member States in helping to get young people back into work or into education. Young people are our future and it is our shared responsibility to give each and every one of them an opportunity to succeed on the labour market”.
Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, commented: “The measures and reforms implemented under the Youth Guarantee have made a difference in the lives of more than 9 million young people. The Youth Guarantee has supported important reforms to countries’ educational systems, employment services, and partnerships to deliver better opportunities for young people. I am confident that with continued political commitment, sufficient resources and strong resolve, we will reap the benefits of the work carried out so far and have the results we are all striving for. Therefore the Commission has recently proposed to increase budget resources for the Youth Employment Initiative until 2020.”
The Youth Guarantee is a political commitment taken by all EU Member States in the form of a Council recommendation of April 2013, following a proposal from the Commission, to give every young people a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. The Youth Employment Initiative is the main EU funding programme initiated at the same time to facilitate the roll-out of the Youth Guarantee and give particular support to regions where youth unemployment rate is over 25%. All Member States are also making use of their share of the European Social Fund (ESF) to support youth employment.
The Communication adopted today reports on progress so far and shows that although youth unemployment remains a key concern in many Member States, young people’s labour market performance in the EU has overall surpassed expectations since 2013. There are 1.4 million less young unemployed in the EU since 2013 and 900,000 less young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs).
These encouraging trends suggest that the Youth Guarantee, backed up by the Youth Employment Initiative, has helped make a difference on the ground. Around 9 million young people took up an offer, the majority of which were offers of employment.Moreover, the Youth Guarantee has been a catalyst for policy change, leading to structural reforms and policy innovation across Member States.
 The Youth Employment Initiative, a €6.4 billion targeted financial source mobilised at EU level, has been central to the swift set-up of national Youth Guarantee schemes and has provided direct support to over 1.4 million young NEETs living in those regions most in need. The 30% increase by the Commission in advance payments of the Initiative in 2015 to the eligible Member States – amounting to around €1 billion – played a significant role to provide readily available cash liquidity, allowing to speed up the launch of measures on the ground.
Given this progress, the Commission has recently proposed to extend the budget resources of the Youth Employment Initiative and provide an additional €1 billion to the YEI specific budget allocation, matched by €1 billion from the European Social Fund. These €2 billion could make it possible to support around 1 million more young people until 2020 in the Member States most affected by youth unemployment. These measures come on top of financial allocations available under the ESF.
The Communication adopted today underlines the need to accelerate and broaden the Youth Guarantee, and to speed up the implementation of the YEI. It recognises that more efforts need to be made to support “hard-to-reach” young people: youngsters who are not registered with the public employment services, are low-skilled, have dropped out of school, and face multiple barriers to entering the labour markets (such as poverty, social exclusion, disability and discrimination). In parallel, the quality of the offers and services provided to young people can be improved.
Background
The Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative were adopted in 2013 to support Member States’ efforts to fight youth unemployment and are part of a broader policy agenda geared towards the inclusion of young people in society.
As President Juncker stated in his State of the Union on 14 September 2016: “I cannot and will not accept that Europe is and remains the continent of youth unemployment. I cannot and will not accept that the millennials, Generation Y, might be the first generation in 70 years to be poorer than their parents.[…] We will continue to roll out the Youth Guarantee across Europe, improving the skillset of Europeans and reaching out to the regions and young people most in need.”
As identified in the 2016 Letter of Intent, the Commission intends to step up its efforts in support of youth more generally, and the Youth Guarantee instruments should play their full role as part of a broader set of youth initiatives. For instance, the establishment of a European Solidarity Corps was announced by President Juncker during his State of the Union speech on 14 September 2016. The Corps will be rooted in the core EU values of engagement and solidarity and will offer socially-minded young people under 30, benefitting from the Youth Guarantee or not, the opportunity to help and support others and acquire new skills and experience, either in their home country or in another Member State. The Commission will present its ideas by the end of the year.
The Youth Guarantee Recommendation was adopted by the EU’s Council of Ministers on 22 April 2013 (see MEMO/13/152) on the basis of a proposal made by the Commission in December 2012 (see IP/12/1311 and MEMO/12/938) and was endorsed by the June 2013 European Council.
All 28 Member States have submitted Youth Guarantee Implementation Plans and have taken action to set up their Youth Guarantee schemes. These Plans identify steps to be taken to implement the Youth Guarantee, outlining the timeframe for key reforms and measures, the roles of public authorities and other partners, and how it will be financed (details available here). Implementation of national Youth Guarantee schemes is monitored by the Commission within the framework of the European Semester.
The Youth Employment Initiative was launched in 2013 to provide targeted support to young people aged below 25 and living in regions where youth unemployment was higher than 25% in 2012. The YEI is one of the main EU financial resources to support the implementation of Youth Guarantee schemes. Currently 20 MS are eligible for YEI support.[1]
The YEI was initially created as a €6.4 billion dedicated resource to be spent during 2014-18. In the context of the mid-term review of the EU 2014-20 budget, the Commission proposed to further boost the YEI specific allocation by an additional €1 billion, matched by €1 billion from the European Social Fund, thus a €2 billion overall increase in YEI resources until 2020, which brings them to €8.4 billion since the launch of the Initiative in 2013. Next to that, thanks to increased cohesion policy allocations as from 2017, several YEI-eligible Member States will have the possibility to invest up to €2 billion more of ESF funding in youth employment measures.
The YEI is complementary to other actions undertaken at national level, including those with ESF support. The ESF can reach out beyond individuals and can help reform employment, education and training institutions and services. The ESF 2014-20 invests €6.3 billion directly in youth employment measures and around €27 billion in education measures and reforms.
In 2013, EU Heads of State or Government called on the Commission to ‘report in 2016 on the implementation of the “Youth Guarantee” and on the operation of the YEI’, which this Communication follows up on.
For more information
MEMO: Questions and Answers: Communication on the Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative
Communication: The Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative three years on
SWD: The Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative three years on
SWD: Applying the Quality Framework for Traineeships
EU-wide factsheet on Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative
Country-specific factsheets on Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative
Testimonials
Where to register for the Youth Guarantee?
Fact sheet: Youth Guarantee – making it happen
Fact sheet: Addressing youth unemployment in the EU
Youth Employment Initiative funding map
Info graphic: Youth Employment Initiative
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Questions and Answers: The new Europass Framework

MIL OSI – Source: European Union – Press Release/Statement

Headline: Questions and Answers: The new Europass Framework

Why is there a need for better tools and services to make skills more visible?
People today have new ways and new opportunities to learn, work and find jobs. Tools and services for skills and qualifications can help them present their skills, qualifications and experiences in new and innovative ways. They can provide useful information on learning opportunities and skills trends in different sectors and countries; and they can support exchange of information and better understanding of skills and qualifications. These tools and services are essential to facilitate transparency, mobility and ultimately employability. This initiative, one of the ten actions proposed by the New Skills Agenda for Europe adopted by the Commission in June 2016, seeks to ensure that EU tools and services for skills and qualifications equip people and organisations with the support and information they need to find their way on the labour market or for further study.
What is Europass and why a new Decision?
Europass was established in 2004 by a Decision of the European Parliament and the Council to encourage transparency of skills and qualifications, in particular to facilitate mobility.
After eleven years, the tools and services need an update to reflect the needs of users in a changing labour market, as well as in education and training sectors. Europass was built upon largely static templates; its central objective remains to make it easier for people to exchange and understand information on skills and qualifications, but it will now also make full use of new technology and ensure links with other services to better respond to people’s needs.
Importantly, Europass will continue to serve the needs of all individuals including those who may not have access to online tools. Its delivery will be better connected with guidance services.
How will the new Europass help career and learning choices?
The new Europass Decision sets out two key planks to the evolution of the service. Firstly, the new Europass will offer a wider range of tools and services through a user-friendly online service. Europass will help individuals with their career management, and assist their decisions on education and training pathways and enable them to describe their skills to employers, education and training institutions and other interested organisations. Europass will offer tools such as an improved CV-builder for documenting skills and qualifications, free self-assessment tools and information on skills and qualifications, including trends in skills needs across Europe. It will be compatible with other services so that users can easily manage and share information with other systems such as online application forms for jobs or with social media.
Secondly, the new Europass will also embrace the use of open standards for topics such as learning opportunities, descriptions of programmes and skills. This work will be done in a way that complements other existing standards, creates consistency and makes sharing of information easier. The use of these standards will strengthen the ability of the Skills Panorama, for instance, to produce real-time, accurate information through web-crawling and data analysis on particular trends.
The online services will be complemented by services at national level.
What has Europass achieved so far?
Europass has gained more and more awareness in the last 10 years. Since 2005, there have been 126 million website visits, and over 93 million document templates have been downloaded. In addition, the most well-known document, the Europass CV, has been created more than 60 million times.
How have the social partners been consulted?
A series of targeted stakeholder consultations, including social partners and civil society, were organised to discuss the scope and priorities of the EU Skills Agenda, including the Europass initiative. Policy networks (Europass centres, European Qualifications Framework national contact points, Euroguidance network) have been consulted on an on-going basis during the development of this initiative.
What is the role of the Commission?
The Commission will provide the online platform offering the main services and will bring together a number of existing complementary EU portals for skills and qualifications, including the portal “Learning Opportunities and Qualifications in Europe” and the Skills Panorama, as well as the current Europass portal. The new Europass online service will deliver a range of linked services for skills and qualifications in an intuitive, user-friendly way through a single portal.
The Commission will also continue to encourage more synergy, coordination and sharing of expertise and good practice between national services supporting skills and qualifications and the use of EU tools.
Do EU funds support this initiative for better tools and services?
The EU is already supporting a number of EU portals for skills and qualifications, as well as the operation of national centres (which are currently funded by Erasmus+). Europass and the Skills Panorama are currently managed by the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop).
For more information:
IP/16/3213