This weekend my constituency of the East Midlands will play host to an alternative EU summit, where young people from across the region, country and continent will be descending on Nottingham to talk to politicians, unions and business leaders about the direction they want to see the UK and EU take.
I hope this summit will be a fresh alternative to the events of last week. When I speak to colleagues in the European Parliament about the current deadlock over the EU’s budget, the mood is one of deep frustration.
Not necessarily because there is a fervent belief one way or another about the size of the overall budget, but because there is a sense of resignation. Resignation to the fact that whatever the outcome in the next round of negotiations, it will not produce the radical, flexible budget that the EU needs for job and growth creation.
Why? Because there is no real jobs and growth strategy.
Last week’s stalemate only serves to disguise the fact that the predominantly right-wing leaders in the EU are out of ideas. The austerity-only course has failed, but aside from a few token gestures we see no change of course, no new ideas, no leadership.
With this inability of Europe’s right to come up with a dedicated and coherent way out of the crisis, there is little wonder that we see a disconnect between the EU and its citizens. The crisis has hit all walks of society, from Warsaw to Walsall, with young people in particular having reason to be fearful.
Unless urgent surgery is performed to stop the disease of youth unemployment from spreading, we face the threat of generations being subjected to dire social and economic conditions. This won’t be just a problem for the likes of Spain and Greecewith their chilling 50% rates of youth unemployment, but also for the UK where one million young people are now jobless.
We need new ideas now, solutions today to a problem that will burden us for a long time to come.
That is why we want to seize this opportunity for the EU to reconnect, a chance to show people the real power of the union in creating and facilitating jobs through the single market. But it is those very elements of the EU budget that David Cameron wants to cut. Projects such as the Connecting Europe Facility which would see investment in transport and energy infrastructure in the UK. We need to prioritise investments such as these which would create new jobs, improve our competiveness as a region and make our economies sustainable for the future.
And alongside these longer term projects, we need short-term measures to help those young people struggling to get their foot in the door. That is why I have been calling forEurope’s leaders to come forward with proposals for a youth jobs guarantee scheme. This has been utilised with great success in Austria, guaranteeing every young person a job offer, further education or work-focused training after a period of unemployment. Unless we start putting some ideas into action the status quo will remain.
The Labour Party will be hosting the event this weekend in partnership with our Social Democratic sister parties, bringing hundreds of young people across the UK and EU to talk about the action we need at every level to tackle the youth unemployment problem.
The event will give those young people struggling to find work in the current jobs market a chance to discuss with political leaders like Ed Miliband and Hannes Swoboda, Leader of the S&D Group in the European Parliament, about the actions they want and need to be taken.
So whilst David Cameron scraps with the rest of Europe’s leaders, at least somebody will be talking about ideas that may help get our nations youth into work.
Glenis Willmott is the Leader of the Labour MEPs