The European Commission proposed on Wednesday measures to fight unemployment, boost job creation and upgrade worker skills with a fund support of 19 billion euros (about 26.99 billion U.S. dollars).
Under the plan of Shared Commitment for Employment, the commission would earmark the money for the European Social Fund (ESF) operations in 2009-2010 alone, to assist EU member states in putting in place together with social partners rapid reaction packages focusing on job creation.
The commission said that ESF national co-funding by member states would not be required during 2009 and 2010.
With the European Investment Bank group and other financial institutions, a new EU microfinance facility for employment would be set up by spending approximately 500 million euros in loans to promote small business creation and the social economy.
The aim of the faculty was to give a new chance to the unemployed and some of Europe's most disadvantaged groups to start their own business activity.
Combating unemployment and protecting jobs are top objective, according to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Unemployment soared in recent months, forcing the EU to work out concrete actions to fight joblessness at an employment summit in Prague on May 7, with three priorities.
The first priority is to maintain employment, creating jobs and promoting mobility, including short-time working arrangements accompanied by financial support for training and income loss and creating the right environment for entrepreneurship, innovation and self-employment.
The second one is to upgrade skills, matching labor market needs, including upgrading skills at all levels to address the short-term employment impact of the crisis and to pave the way for a lower carbon, competitive, knowledge-based economy.
To give young people opportunities, at least 5 million young Europeans should have the opportunity to enroll in a high quality apprenticeship in 2009-2010, so that there are at least as many places available as before the crisis (around 2.3 million each year).
The commission, the executive arm of the EU, also called on companies to continue to provide traineeship places to students to develop their employability.
The commission is expected to urge leaders of EU members to approve the proposals at their summit on June 18-19. (1 U.S. dollar = 0.70388 euros)