Why is finding a job so hard in Europe?

Alexandre Malsch, one of the speakers at the conference (credit: Gilles Johnson)

Alexandre Malsch, one of the speakers at the conference (credit: Gilles Johnson)

Why is finding a job so hard in Europe? This is the issue the invited speakers tried to answer during a TEDx conference organised by the European Parliament in Paris ahead of the European elections which will take place on 25 May. 

In front of one hundred people, four points of view were presented and all the four gave different opinions about Europe and how it is involved against unemployment which concerns 11% of the active population and 25% of the 18-30 years old people. For instance, Pervenche Bérès, socialist MEP and EMPL (employment and social affairs) committee chairwoman expressed her concerns about the current situation vis-à-vis more and more critical European citizens, in spite of some important measures such as the Youth guarantee for employment adopted by the European Council at last June’s summit. For the MEP, Europe must be present for globalisation and employment; otherwise, the Euro might be harshly questioned.

After that, Pierre Cahuc focused on the economic and social differences regarding unemployment and jobs within the European Union. According to the economist, a member of the French Conseil d’analyse économique (CAE), important gaps exist between States which have a strong unemployment rate (25%) and States which have an effective employment policy. Nonetheless, contrary to some stereotypes, the compensations for jobless people are more important in countries the most concerned by unemployment. In France, for instance, compensations are much higher than in Germany where a low unemployment rate did not prevent more precariousness inside the job market because of a weak compensation. For Cahuc, these differences should be taken into account to understand unemployment issue in the European Union better before reaching a common strategy and policy.

But the crisis gives new opportunities and opens the way to other sectors or initiatives such as social economy, for instance. According to Jean-Marc Borello, SOS Group co-founder and MOUVES (social entrepreneur movement), the enterprise must not only have a financial interest, it must also have a social and environmental impact. Taking this into account, there is a new paradigm and a better growth and employment cycle, the social economy having an important potential for the future, giving more and more interest from European policies. Another speaker, Alexandre Malsch, a 28-year old entrepreneur, told the story of Melty, the media group for the 15-25 year old people he founded in 2010. According to him, Europe needs to implement strict and clear rules to allow everyone to act under the same and equitable conditions, faced with competition mainly. Very relax like Mark Zuckenberg, Facebook’s co-founder and CEO, the young businessman delivered his vision of employment and put forward the opportunities that exist for young people provided someone gives them their chance.

In a context dominated by an increasing unemployment and a clearer and clearer distrust of citizens, it is in the interest of Europe to act in the framework of its prerogatives granted by the EU treaties. Indeed, although EU Member States get an exclusive competence about employment, the EU gets legitimacy and can use its influence to give a direction, or even to impose a common strategy. On this point, the European Parliament may play its cards right insofar as it backed some initiatives for employment, especially regarding young people, such as the European Youth Guarantee for employment which gives the opportunity to graduates to get a traineeship, a training or a job, four months after having completed their studies. Of course, there is still a lot to do and it is obvious it will not be enough to ensure people who are still totally experiencing the crisis and joblessness. However, in the framework of the European Parliament “ReACT campaign” for the European elections, this issue is still on top of the agenda.

Gilles Johnson

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