The EU summit focusing on how to promote economic growth and create jobs started in Italy on Wednesday (8 October). The summit is meant to be more low-key in comparison to other EU summits but it is expected that other topics will take over since no rigid agenda has been set. In fact, no decisions are anticipated as the meeting should not “spur controversy” among EU member states, the strategy which is in line with the previous two summits on jobs and growth that took place in Paris and Berlin. Europeans should only see the meeting as a signal of good intentions and best practice sharing.
According to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency, almost 25 million adults are jobless. This equals to more than 10 percent of the EU’s labor force. The number basically means that the rate of unemployment has not changed since last month. In the eurozone, almost 18.5 million Europeans were unemployed, with Greece and Spain posting the highest rates of 27.2 and 24.5 percent respectively. In both countries the rate of unemployment of the youth is about 60 percent.
There is however a possibility that Milan summit becomes controversial, and if so, it will be because the talks will move to budget and austerity. France, for instance, has already challenged Germany’s insistence on respecting the EU’s fiscal standards. Moreover, the summit is considered as one of the first major events of the Italian EU presidency. Some see it also as the first chance of Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, to contribute to the debate on jobs and growth. Prime Minister Renzi has been given a greenlight from the Italian parliament to reform the labor market in the country but the shape of the reform has not yet been determined.