Slovenia: Second meeting of EU and Western Balkans Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs

Slovenia: Second meeting of EU and Western Balkans Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs

The Western Balkans, with the support of the European Union, will increase the integration of young people into the labour market. At a meeting with colleagues from the EU in Brdo pri Kranju in Slovenia, which took place on 8 July 2021, the representatives of the Western Balkans committed themselves to the gradual establishment, implementation and improvement of the Youth Guarantee Scheme.

Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, emphasized: “Youth unemployment is a problem in both the EU and the Western Balkans, so we must continue to pursue effective policy measures to help young people enter the labour market. I am pleased that the representatives of the Western Balkans have committed themselves to establish and implement the Youth Guarantee Scheme based on the EU model. Young people expect solutions from us and we must not disappoint them. We wish our partners in the Western Balkans much success in this. ”

“The Youth Guarantee has proven to be an effective tool for promoting the integration of young people into the labour market in the European Union. It has been implemented effectively in Slovenia since 2014. The established implementation regime brings good results, especially achieving the share of young people not in education. Support from the European Social Fund is key to achieving results, and the EU stands ready to provide support to the Western Balkans through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance,” said Janez Cigler Kralj, Slovenian Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Options.

The meeting was held under the auspices of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and was organized in cooperation with the European Commission. Ministers and other representatives discussed youth employment, which is a common challenge for the EU-27 and the Western Balkans. Young people across Europe have been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis, which has significantly affected their integration into the labour market, as well as their education and training plans. Participants exchanged views on the structural challenges facing young people in the labour market, especially in terms of the green and digital transition.

To meet these challenges, ministers and other representatives agreed that close cooperation between the EU and the Western Balkans is extremely important. Concerning priority responses to help promote youth employment, they agreed that the European Pillar of Social Rights provides guiding principles for action, in particular, that young people have the right to further education, apprenticeships or job offers within four months of becoming unemployed or drop out of school. The EU Youth Guarantee Scheme has proven to be effective in tackling youth unemployment and inactivity.

In this context, the Ministers and Partners from the Western Balkans responsible for employment supported the Declaration on Ensuring the Sustainable Integration of Young People into the Labour Market with concrete measures to gradually establish, implement and improve the Youth Guarantee Scheme. The implementation of the scheme requires the allocation of state funds, and the European Union will financially support the introduction of the initiative as a leader in the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans.