László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, said: "Following the strong political signal given by the European Council to support the Youth Guarantee and other measures to tackle the record levels of youth unemployment, the Commission has delivered the concrete proposal to allow Member States to start using the resources immediately once the new 2014-20 budget framework comes into force."

The Youth Employment Initiative would particularly support young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs) in the Union's regions with a youth unemployment rate in 2012 at above 25 percent. It would focus on integrating NEETs into the labour market.

The money under the Youth Employment Initiative would therefore be used to reinforce and accelerate measures outlined in the December 2012 Youth Employment Package. In particular, the funds would be available for Member States to finance measures to implement in the eligible regions the Youth Guarantee Recommendation agreed by the EU's Council of Employment and Social Affairs Ministers on 28 February. Under the Youth Guarantee, Member States should put in place measures to ensure that young people up to age 25 receive a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed.

The Youth Employment Initiative would be complementary to other projects undertaken at national level, including those with ESF support, with a view to setting up or implementing the youth guarantee schemes, such as reforming the relevant institutions and services.

Of the funding, 3 billion Euro would come from a dedicated Youth Employment budget line complemented by at least 3 billion Euro more from the European Social Fund. Given Member States current budgetary difficulties due to the economic crisis, only the European Social Fund contribution would require Member States to top up with their own financial contribution.

Young people have been particularly badly affected by the economic crisis. In January 2013, the youth unemployment rate in the EU was more than twice as high as the adult rate, at 23.6 percent. There are 7.5 million young Europeans (aged 15-24) not in employment, education or training (NEETs) in the EU. Youth unemployment is particularly acute in certain regions. This is not only a problem for the individuals concerned but also poses a serious threat to social cohesion in the EU and risks having a long-term negative impact on Europe's economic potential and competitiveness.

To tackle the unacceptably high levels of youth unemployment, the Commission adopted the Youth Employment Package on 5 December 2012. It includes a proposal for a Council Recommendation on Establishing a Youth Guarantee, launches a second-stage social partner consultation on a Quality Framework on Traineeships, announces a European Alliance for Apprenticeships and outlines ways to reduce obstacles to mobility for young people.

Picture: Chairman's Conference - Fighting Youth Unemployment Lisboa 2012 ©