Reopen the debate on measures to effectively address long-term unemployment and the contribution of local and regional authorities.
Address policy options, also through exploring the potential of the "Zero long-term Unemployment Zones", building on employability and job creation, with the conviction that redirecting the collective costs of unemployment towards job creation can boost the economy and local labour market.
Aims to address the lack of an EU initiative on the topic, since the Council Recommendation in 2016.
Looks for optimum ways to fund (including EU funding) and coordinate zero long-term unemployment projects in the regions and cities of the Member States.
In the 2024 budget proposal for the EU, the EMPL Committee added an amendment concerning the launch of a pilot project - Local employment guarantee: Study of local and regional models tackling long-term unemployment. They called for the allocation of 750,000 euros for a pilot project on the zero long-term unemployment concept (rapporteurs Aurore Lalucq, Agnes Jongerius).
In the CWP 2024, European Commission has dedicated around 23 mil EUR to scaling up local and regional experiments of innovative ways to tackle long-term unemployment. Funds come from the ESF+ Social Innovation initiative, implemented by the Lithuanian ESF agency ESFA on behalf of the Commission. ESFA has launched a mapping exercise of existing projects and experiences across the EU. This will be the basis to further testing, experimentation and scaling up. Expression of interest for similar projects is scheduled for Feb/Mar 2024, followed by a call for proposals expected in Sep/Oct 2024.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- points out that a high long-term unemployment rate is a sign that the labour market is not working properly, resulting in a loss of human resources and of skills for unemployed people, a loss of social security contributions and a loss of economic activity;
- regrets the fact that there has been no initiative to combat long-term unemployment since the 2016 Council Recommendation, even though all Member States are facing this issue;
- notes that employment deprivation costs more than creating additional jobs;
- highlights the innovative nature and social and solidarity economy approach of a number of "zero long-term unemployment" area experiments, and stresses that all these initiatives redirect the cost of long-term unemployment towards creating decent jobs that are useful to the areas in which they are developed;
- stresses that these initiatives help to improve long-term unemployed people's access to training, health prospects, including mental health, opportunities for interaction, social inclusion and well-being, while strengthening social cohesion in their communities;
- underlines the key role of local and regional authorities in setting up schemes to combat long-term unemployment, since they have information on the local labour market, provide enabling services for social and labour market inclusion and have links with local businesses and local social partners;
- calls on local and regional authorities to put in place schemes based on the fundamental principles of the "zero long-term unemployment" areas and the "job guarantee" initiative by redirecting the cost of unemployment towards the creation of decent jobs;
- calls on the European Commission to map these initiatives, including by mobilising its European Network of Public Employment Services;
- calls on the Commission to set up an ad hoc fund to combat long-term unemployment, modelling it on the Youth Employment Initiative and providing at least EUR 750 million in funding over five years.