The EU jobless rate is at an all-time high, the European Commission warned yesterday.
A report released yesterday said that, with EU unemployment hitting record levels and forecasts of a "grim" economic outlook for the months ahead, the Commission was stepping up its "jobs and growth" agenda.
Average unemployment in the 27 member states reached 10.2 per cent in February this year, and now threatens the Union's target of achieving a 75 per cent employment figure by 2020.
Announcing new plans for a "jobs-rich recovery", the Commission said the 1.5 million jobs created in Europe between 2008 and 2011 were dwarfed by the six million jobs lost in the same period.
"Things have got even worse since then," said a statement, with unemployment in the 17-nation eurozone at its highest since the euro currency was launched more than a decade ago.
The jobless rate in Cyprus rose to 9.7 per cent year-on-year in February, one of the three highest increases in the EU.
The IMF said on Tuesday it expects unemployment in Cyprus to reach 9.5 per cent for the year, and record a slight increase in 2013 – 9.6 per cent.
To reach its 75 per cent employment target, the EU is facing an uphill struggle to create 17.6 million new jobs -- assuming no further job losses. The current employment rate is 68.9 per cent, according to the Commission report called ‘Towards a jobs rich recovery’.
EU employment commissioner Laszlo Andor, addressing Euro-MPs in Strasbourg, said: "Current levels of unemployment in the EU are dramatic and unacceptable. Job creation must become a real European priority.
"If we are to restore growth and cope with major structural changes like the greening of the economy, an ageing population and technological change, the EU needs a dynamic and inclusive European labour market." European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said: "Europe needs a job-creation strategy to tackle its unacceptable level of unemployment. The EU has a large untapped potential to boost job creation.
"All together, the green economy, the health and new technology sectors will create more than 20 millions of jobs in the years to come." He added: "Member states need to seize these opportunities, mobilise existing resources and stimulate their labour markets in close cooperation with the social partners. Together we can make it happen."
It urges national governments to encourage employment by reducing taxes on labour and more support for business start-ups.
It says the focus should shift to the green economy, where 20 million jobs could be created between now and 2020 -- a quarter of them through better energy efficiency policies and by boosting the renewable energy sector.
BusinessEurope director-general Philippe de Buck said: "The European Commission must not only look at national labour market policy.
"It must also assess the impact of all EU policies on growth and employment. Industrial and innovation policies, single market and international trade initiatives play a crucial role in job creation."
Source: Cyprus Mail