Promoting Youth Labour Mobility and Tackling Youth Unemployment in Europe

Resolution submitted by: Political Commission 2 – Internal European Policies
Adopted by the Federal Committee in Cologne on 6 November 2016. Re-adopted and amended by the European Congress in Liège on 21 November 2021


Following the international financial crisis and the current COVID-19 global-pandemic, rampant youth unemployment has become one of the most urgent challenges Europe is currently facing. The statistics show that our generation is encountering difficulties in entering the labour market and finding a job. In parallel, precariousness and degrading work conditions of existing labour markets remain an unsolved problem. In the long run, cross-border employment and mobility inducements at the EU level may alleviate these problems and amend the downward trend in youth employment to a greater extent. JEF Europe urges all involved actors, including Member States, EU institutions and non-governmental organisations to take a firm stand on further European mobility and jobs via significant reforms.


JEF Europe,

  • Reiterating the free movement of workers as a fundamental principle of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), enshrined in Article 45, the definition of decent work and signatory parties’ responsibility to uphold it in Articles 6-7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Directive 2014/50/EU of the European Parliament on minimum requirements for enhancing labour mobility in regard to supplementary pension schemes; 
  • Noting that employment and social policies are located under Member State competencies, while European institutions such as the European Parliament and the European Commission support and complement the former’s efforts with regard to harmonisation of labour market standards;
  • Deeply concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic that had a systematic, deep and disproportionate impact on youth, their employment as well as their social and academic life and wellbeing.

Youth unemployment:

  • Understanding that the youth unemployment rate is defined by the ratio of the number of unemployed persons between 15-24 years old divided by the total number of people of the same age group in the labour force (the latter being the sum of employed and unemployed persons), as well as being aware of the overlap between education and work for the same age group;
  • Drawing attention to the importance of cross-border labour mobility in enhancing the efficiency of labour markets, increasing competitiveness and adjusting to asymmetric shocks in an optimum currency area which the Eurozone aims to become;
  • Noting with concern that youth unemployment on a global scale has recently been on the rise, first in the aftermath of the Eurocrisis 2011, reaching an EU-wide youth unemployment levels up to 23.8 percent in 2013, followed by the level during the global COVID-19 pandemic of up to 20 percent (average in the EU countries);
  • Disturbed by the vast gap between different regions and social groups in terms of youth unemployment figures, and the resulting regional migration, in consequence leading to an interregional brain drain and perpetuating a downward spiral in the affected economies, and the constant increase of the intergenerational wealth gap;
  • Noting with concern that 1 in 6 young Europeans between 20 and 34 is not employed, not in education and not in training in 2015 (NEETs), often being forced to work under precarious conditions and is trapped in a state of structural unemployment or underemployment; possibly leading to social exclusion;
  • Stressing especially the impact on young women that were severely affected: the proportion of young female NEETs in 2020 was at least 10 percentage points higher than of young men;
  • Highly concerned about the consequences of Brexit for young people, within the EU and the UK; especially regretting UK’s refrain from keeping its participation in Erasmus+;
  • Regretting the third-country status of Switzerland with regard to Erasmus+, which in effect prevents young Swiss residents from accessing this programme and young EU and other participant countries’ citizens from staying at Swiss institutions under Erasmus+;

International and European efforts:

  • Highlighting the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) focus on decent work and the four pillars of the Decent Work Agenda – employment creation, social protection, rights in the workplace, and social dialogue – as integral elements of the new UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals;
  • While remaining concerned by the insufficient funding for the Youth Employment Initiative, through which Youth Guarantee schemes are financed;
  • Applauding that the EU Commission announced 2022 to be the European Year of
  • Reiterating the firm European commitment to fighting discrimination, precariousness, low entry wages and insecure employment conditions as part of the European Pillar of Social Rights in the EU Member States;
  • Drawing attention to the gender gap both with regard to employment ratios and wages of youth in the European labour market, which has repercussions for employment in adulthood; hence future policies undertaken by Member States regarding creating gender balance in youth employment would also have positive, long-lasting effects on overall gender dynamics in European labour markets;

Initiatives on the European Level:

  • Viewing with appreciation the record-breaking student mobility and exchange programmes across Europe, notably Erasmus+, whose budget will be increased within the EU “Next Generation Fund” from 14,7 Billion to €23,4 billion; other efforts being the ‘Youth Employment Initiative’, ‘Youth on the Move’, ‘European Alliance for Apprenticeships’ and most recently the ‘European Solidarity Corps’ that combines volunteering with mobility;
  • Welcoming the Commission’s proposal to introduce the ALMA programme supporting training, education and employment of young people, and cross-border professional movement of young people who otherwise would not have this opportunity;
  • Being aware of the importance of youth mobility schemes outside the higher education framework, such as vocational education, training and traineeships, for the enhancement of European labour markets;
  • Keeping in mind the ‘New Skills Agenda’ of the European Commission, especially in the emerging digital and technological field, as a top-policy concern of young professionals to ease their transition to the market and stimulate entrepreneurship;
  • Being aware of the consequences of negative spillover from youth unemployment in national labour markets to the European level;
  • Recognising the adverse effect that the continuing existence of language barriers has on the international employment prospects of young Europeans, as well as the importance of English teaching as the most widely spoken language in Europe;
  • Being deeply convinced of the European federal project, and most particularly of the Eurozone, which rely on concrete proposals towards a strengthened fiscal union to complement the single currency by increasing the labour demand in the regions more affected by asymmetric shocks;
  • Strongly encouraging that the Conference on the Future of Europe involves young people’s voices and will allow JEF Europe and other youth organizations to be heard and taken into account.


JEF Europe therefore;

  1. Urges Member States to implement policies that engender stable and secure youth employment opportunities in the labour markets, taking into account the expanding qualified labour force, through increased youth mobility programmes, such as Erasmus+, to be continuously used and linked to the market structures in the European Union to encourage cross-country mobility for young workers;
  2. Demands initiatives that are located under the Next Generation EU funds, such as Erasmus+ or European Solidarity Corps, to be further supported in terms of increased funding and accessibility;
  3. Asks Member States to implement policies that will harmonise standards and regulations in labour markets, as well as consider common pension schemes, one possible example being a European Unemployment Benefits Scheme;
  4. Further asks governments of Member States to pursue the goals outlined in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, especially connected to decent work and economic growth, wherein reducing the proportion of youth NEETs is stated as a priority, as well as developing a global strategy on youth employment and implementing the Global Jobs Pact of the ILO;
  5. Requests harmonisation of vocational traineeship schemes, thereby allowing young Europeans to pursue their occupation in all Member States without being hindered by national differences in qualifications and certification regulations;
  6. Asks for a strong improvement of the EURES service, which should be the primary portal for online job seeking / hiring for European countries, in order to create a single “job offering market”;
  7. Asks the EU to implement an EU-based special plan for development and employment, funded by a proper EU budget;
  8. Demands the European Commission to prepare Europe-wide guidelines on the teaching of foreign languages, with a view to ensuring that each European student has acquired at least the B2 level on the CEFR scale in at least one foreign language by the end of their mandatory education.
  9. Strongly encourages the EU decision makers to take into consideration the proposals of youth organizations during the Conference on the Future of Europe as well as the European Year of Youth, that should really tackle the existing problems (such as youth unemployment, restrictions to youth mobility) with concrete solutions while ensuring high-quality education, opportunities and social inclusion.
  10. Strongly encouraging the UK to reconsider its decision to leave Erasmus+ and to rejoin as soon as possible to enable a European future/perspective for young people.
  11. Invites the EU and Switzerland to achieve full association of Switzerland to the Erasmus+ programme;
  12. Encourages the Council of the EU and the European Parliament to adopt the ALMA programme proposed by the EU Commission.