Trade unions back MEPs’ call to ban unpaid internships

European trade unions are backing the European Parliament’s call on the Commission to ban unpaid internships and invest in quality jobs for young people amid soaring youth unemployment.

The proposal is part of a Parliament resolution passed today aimed at improving the European Commission’s weak proposal for a Reinforced Youth Guarantee.

The Reinforced Youth Guarantee presented in July fell far short of expectations, focusing on further training rather than real employment and with no quality criteria demanded strongly by trade unions and civil society groups.

The Youth Guarantee was introduced in 2013 as youth unemployment soared above 50% in some member states.

But the European Court of Auditors found the scheme “fell short of initial expectations”, with up to 60% of interventions consisting of traineeships rather than real jobs. The International Labour Organisation said that “in many instances, resource allocations have not been sufficient to match the recommendations.”

With youth unemployment rising by 315,000 to over 3 million since January, it’s crucial to learn from the mistakes of the last scheme.

That’s why the ETUC supports the European Parliament’s resolution which calls for:

- An increased share of ESF+ funding to be allocated to the scheme in the EU long term budget. Experts say it should be more than 7,000 Euro per NEET to make a real difference.
- A legal instrument to enforce fair remuneration for internships, traineeships and apprenticeships
- Enhanced monitoring of the implementation of the scheme in member states and its results

ETUC Confederal Secretary Ludovic Voet said:

“The EU failed to deliver on the promise of the Youth Guarantee during the last crisis, with ambitions that weren’t matched by the necessary funding and the money that was spent going towards internships rather than the real jobs.

“With youth unemployment rising more sharply now than after the financial crash, it’s crucial that the EU learns from past mistakes by offering young people quality jobs and real legal protection from exploitation.

“Trade unions, youth groups and now MEPs have all now called on the Commission to improve the Youth Guarantee by banning unpaid internships and increasing investment.

“The Commission cannot keep burying its head in the sand about the improvements needed to the scheme. But extra EU funding must come with stricter quality rules to ensure taxpayer’s money is not subsiding precarious jobs.”


ETUC press briefing on problems with and solutions for the Youth Guarantee:

Full ETUC resolution on the future of the European Youth Guarantee: