June 14 - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has warned that the failure to tackle youth unemployment could tear Europe apart. As the finance and labour ministers of Germany, France, Italy and Spain meet in Rome to discuss the issue, Joel Flynn asks how high levels of youth unemployment are changing Europe's landscape.
Labour and finance ministers from leading euro zone countries meet in Rome, with the future of a whole generation at stake. They're discussing how to tackle youth unemployment -- an issue that threatens to bring the euro zone to its knees. Jan Randolph is from IHS Global Insight. SOUNDBITE: IHS Global Insight Director of Sovereign Risk Analysis, Jan Randolph, saying (English): "People have talked, quite rightly, about a lost generation. It's tantamount to a failure of politics, policies and the economy. What is done about it will say a lot about it and about where the euro zone is going and where policies are going." Austerity has seen joblessness among those under 25 soar, especially in southern Europe. It's now more than 40 percent in Italy and Portugal, over 50 percent in Spain and above 60 percent in Greece. Many are worried about the long-term economic effects of so many young people being out of work. Stefano Scarpetta is director of employment at the OECD. SOUNDBITE: OECD Director of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, Stefano Scarpetta, saying (English): "We have seen in previous generations that have entered the labour market in bad times and couldn't find a job that even 15, 20 years later these young people, no longer young, actually experience a lower probability of being in employment and sometimes on lower wages." Some say the employment statistics are misleading. More young people are in education and training because there aren't jobs available, but data still counts them as unemployed. Others argue that once economies begin to recover, demand for jobs will also pick up. But Randolph says there are deeper problems. SOUNDBITE: IHS Global Insight Director of Sovereign Risk Analysis, Jan Randolph, saying (English): "Southern euro zone economies are known to have structural issues. Basically they are insider-outsider problems: the kinds of economies they have are built up with strong unions, but also strong business networks, and they're very hostile to newcomers -- whether it's foreign investment, whether it's others participating in the labour market, and so youth unemployment gets sidelined -- the youth gets sidelined." Germany has started schemes to get young Spaniards to work in Germany. They're trying to make up for shortages in some professions at home. But Scarpetta says more needs to be done. SOUNDBITE: OECD Director of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, Stefano Scarpetta, saying (English): "Revamp economic growth, make sure this economic growth is job rich, but also intervene with specific, well-targeted measures that can increase the incentive for employers to hire young people." Ministers agreed earlier this year on a 6 billion euro plan to offer training to some young people. But there's still arguments about how to spend that money. The issue will top the agenda of an EU summit in Brussels at the end of the month.