Friday 21 November 2014

Taoiseach warns EU leaders against falling behind in digital economy

Lise Hand in Paris

Published 12/11/2013 | 16:57

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

THE Taoiseach warned EU leaders today that countries who fall behind in the digital economy run the risk of losing out on thousand of jobs available in the eurozone.

By 2015 it is estimated that there could be up to 900,000 vacancies in the ICT industry across Europe.

Stressing the importance of the digital economy, Mr. Kenny said: "It will kickstart young careers, it will spawn new fast growing tech companies and it will improve the competitiveness of our existing SMEs".

He added that the problem of dealing with the long term unemployed must be a priority."Unless we address this problem Europe will suffer the economic and social consequences long after this downturn ends," he added.

The Taoiseach was speaking at a European Conference on Youth Employment in Paris this afternoon. 24 European leaders attended the conference which was hosted at the Elysee Palace by President Francois Hollande, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EC President Manuel Barroso, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta who met with Mr Kenny in Dublin last week.

The  leaders discussed proposals to tackle the serious issue of youth unemployment in the EU, including the implementation of the 'youth guarantee', which is due to begin in 2014. Under the EU plan, all under-25s must be given a good quality offer of employment, education or training within four months of becoming unemployed.  According to the latest figures from Eurostat, there are 5.5 million unemployed people under 25 in the 28-member European Union.

While the issue is a huge problem in Ireland where the rate stands at 28 per cent, with over 65,000 young people unemployed, the biggest joblessness crisis is in Greece where 57 per cent of those under 25 are out of work. Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras said last week that youth unemployment is one of the biggest problems of southern Europe, and that participants in today’s summit are trying to “grab the bull by the horns.”

Earlier today, EU finance ministers reached a €135m deal which includes up to €3.9 billion to support job creation, training and apprenticeships for the estimated 19 million young Europeans currently out of work.

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