Huge interest in boosting youth employment in Europe

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More than 300 project proposals were submitted to the new EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment by the deadline in August.

- It’s wonderful to see so much interest in helping young people into the labour market. Youth unemployment is one of Europe’s greatest challenges. Through this fund, we are working with partners in other European countries to find sustainable solutions, said Minister of EEA and EU Affairs Frank Bakke-Jensen.

Group of Polish youth arm in arm.
Young people in Poland. Credit: Maciek Nabradalik

The objective of the fund is to support innovative pilot projects to help young people gain a foothold in the labour market, and to ensure that experience from projects that have been successful in one country is transferred to other countries. Funding has also been earmarked for research. A total of around NOK 550 million is available. The primary target group is long-term unemployed in the 25-29 age group, including vulnerable groups such as young mothers, young people with health problems and disabilities, and young people from ethnic minorities and rural areas.

In addition to the 15 beneficiary countries under the grants scheme, Ireland, Italy and Spain are also entitled to apply for support from the fund, as youth unemployment is so high in these countries. Project proposals have been received from all 18 countries. Each project must involve at least two countries. Norwegian partners can also take part, and a many applications include Norwegian partners. Most of the proposals are for projects that will run over several years.

The EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Youth Employment was launched on 26 April this year. Only the very best project proposals will go on to the next round. Those selected will have to submit a full application by 1 November 2017. The projects are expected to start in spring 2018.

Young woman working at a factory in Czech Republic.
Young industrial worker i Czech Republic Credit: Robin Maddock

Facts about the EEA and Norway Grants

  • Norway is part of the European internal market through the EEA Agreement.
  • The aim of the EEA and Norway Grants is to reduce social and economic disparities in Europe and strengthen cooperation between Norway and the beneficiary countries.
  • For the period 2014-2021, EUR 2.8 billion has been set aside under the EEA and Norway Grants for distribution among 15 beneficiary countries.
  • Norway provides about 98 % of the EEA and Norway Grants. Iceland and Liechtenstein provide the rest.