Youth employment initiative: Council increases pre-financing to €1 billion
The Council on 19 May increased advance payments for the youth employment initiative (YEI) by almost €1 billion in 2015. Instead of about €67 million, member states will receive around €1 billion as advance payments this year. The regulation adopted by the Council removes the main bottleneck in the implementation of YEI by releasing the financial burden on the member states' budgets and allowing them to roll out quickly measures against youth unemployment. The adoption of the regulation follows the agreement reached in the Council on 21 April and the approval of the European Parliament on 29 April.
Ensuring a critical financial mass
The increase in advance payments will be achieved by raising the pre-financing rate of the specific YEI allocation to 30%. The current level of pre-financing for YEI amounts to 1% (1.5% for member states under financial assistance). Experience shows that under the current rules it is not possible to reach the critical financial mass to allow member states to start the implementation of YEI actions. Due to a lack of funds, member states cannot advance sufficient payments to beneficiaries. This considerably hampers the start of projects aimed at helping young Europeans to find a job or a traineeship. Member states with the highest levels of youth unemployment face the strongest budgetary constraints. The new regulation offers a solution to this issue to the benefit of young people, as requested by the European Council.
The increase of advance payments does not require any change in the EU's multiannual financial framework nor any amending budget. It provides the maximum impact in terms of support to the beneficiaries, within the budget available.
The Commission pays advance payments to the member states automatically after the adoption of each operation programme. Further payments, so-called interim payments, are only made to reimburse expenditure already made by member states. EU countries therefore usually have to pre-finance a large part of projects from their national budgets.
YEI was agreed by the European Council in February 2013. Its purpose is to provide additional funding of €6.4 billion in the period 2014-2020 for promoting youth employment to the regions most affected by youth unemployment. The eligible regions are
- those where the youth unemployment rate for young people aged 15 to 24 exceeded 25% in 2012 and
- those where youth unemployment was more than 20% in 2012 as long as they belong to member states where youth unemployment exceeded 30% the same year
A dedicated budget of €3.2 billion has been set aside for the YEI. This requires no co-financing at national level. An additional €3.2 billion comes from allocations from the European social fund to member states for the 2014-2020 programming period.
Around 7 million young Europeans are currently without a job and are not in education or training.
The regulation enters into force the day after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU.