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Our MEPs highlight link between austerity and long-term unemployment

This morning the European Parliament discussed a proposed resolution on the integration of the long-term unemployed into the labour market.

Chair of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, Thomas Händel, told the Parliament: “The long-term unemployed account for at least five per cent of the active EU population. Over 60 per cent of these people have been without a job for at least two years.”

“Long-term unemployment leads to alienation, health problems and loss of social cohesion. In addition, we see that long-term unemployment disproportionately affects already vulnerable groups in which it is passed on to the next generation,” he continued.

“There are big differences in the rate of long-term unemployment across the member states. The highest rates of long-term unemployment can be found in the countries where austerity measures are in place.”

“While labour markets are showing some signs of improvement, long-term unemployment rates remain stubbornly high. At the same time, we see a worrying trend: the highest rate of job growth is in precarious jobs.”

“Continued high levels of long-term unemployment will not help us reach the Europe 2020 objectives – such as reduction of the 20 million people living in poverty,” Händel concluded.

Portuguese MEP, Inês Zuber, commented: “The long-term unemployed are an easy target for employers looking for cheaper labour. For example, the right-wing government in Portugal has created a programme of traineeships for long-term unemployed people which amounts to replacing real jobs with precarious ones with reduced salaries.”

“This is an example that should not be followed. We need to focus on creating the economic circumstances to create more permanent jobs.”

Spanish MEP, Paloma López Bermejo, added: “The countries that are most affected by long-term unemployment are those that have austerity measures. These neoliberal policies and the competition created between member states have contributed to increased unemployment and reduced living standards since the beginning of the economic crisis.”

“We need to get rid of these neoliberal policies. Unless we do that, we will never be able to find a solution to this serious problem. We need to start talking about sharing working time, expanding the public sector and strengthening the resources that are available for social protection,” López Bermejo concluded.

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