BRUSSELS (Reuters) — The European Union urged Britain, Germany and nine other member states on Wednesday to send in proposals to tackle youth unemployment as soon as possible, saying a lack of action on the problem would threaten the bloc's economic prospects.
Brussels last year agreed a scheme worth up to 8 billion euros ($11.9 billion CAD) to provide jobs, apprenticeships and traineeships to try and reverse growing youth joblessness, which has topped 50 per cent in Greece and Spain.
Britain, Slovenia and Slovakia were among 20 countries who qualified for help under the "Youth Guarantee" scheme in the 2014-2020 period, but the three missed a Dec. 31 deadline to send in proposals on how they would use the cash.
Other countries who did not have a region with a sufficiently high joblessness rate to qualify for the scheme were still supposed to send plans to reduce youth unemployment by early 2014.
Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Luxemburg, Malta and the Netherlands are still working on their proposals.
"We urge member states which have not yet finalized their Youth Guarantee implementation plans to do so as soon as possible", said Laszlo Andor, the European commissioner for employment.
"Leaving young people without help damages their lifetime prospects as well as Europe's economic potential and social cohesion," he added.
Management consultants McKinsey & Co on Monday said one of the main sources of Europe's youth unemployment crisis was a severe mismatch between graduates and the skills businesses say they need.
Youth unemployment averages nearly 25 per cent across the euro zone, harming growth and further denting Europe's prospect of emerging from five years of turmoil.
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