Youth Guarantee – EU answer to the NEET problem

Credits: Youth Impact

Before 2010 the problem of unemployed or otherwise workless youth who are no longer in education or training had been partially addressed in several initiatives on the European level, but the NEET category had not been used. The program Youth on the Move enacted in 2010 was the first European Union policy which used the term NEET and explicitly targeted this group. It was a part of Europe 2020 Strategy and it aimed at “unleashing all young people’s potential” to “reduce high youth unemployment and to increase the youth-employment rate . . . by: making education and training more relevant to young people’s needs; encouraging more of them to take advantage of the EU grants to study or train in another country; encouraging EU countries to take measures simplifying the transition from education to work” (Youth on the Move website).

As Mascherini notices “building on Youth on the Move, NEETs consequently became central to the new set of integrated guidelines for economic and employment policies” (2018), with initiatives like “Towards a job-rich recovery”. In 2013, after the proposal from the European Commission, the Council of the EU prepared a recommendation of Youth Guarantee– a commitment by all Member States of EU “to ensure that all young people under the age of 25 years receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.” (COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION 2013). 

At the time, the unemployment rate in EU-28 for people aged 15 to 24 reached 23.6%, and in some countries even exceeded 50% (Greece, Spain), while the NEET rate in the EU–28 reached 13%, in some cases rising to more than 20% (Bulgaria, Greece, Italy) (Escudero 2017). The idea of turning these trends and diminishing percentage of inactive youth was challenging. To ensure its realisation, the European Commission created Youth Employment Initiative with € 8.8 billion budget for the period 2014-2020, and urged every Member State to present their plans of the implementation of the Youth Guarantee, with details on actions, institutions involved, timeline, and modes of financing (Escudero 2017).

As a result, Youth Guarantee became an important factor in implementing actions against youth unemployment and inactivity. Each of the countries of origin for the Youth Impact project – Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Slovakia – prepared its plan and is monitoring the indicators. In the links below you can find those implementation plans (unfortunately not all of them are in English) and fiches for a detailed assessment of the Youth Guarantee implementation in the respective country.

Czech Republic: 




In each of these countries there has been a visible drop in NEET rate and youth unemployment rate. What causes bigger problem is a percentage of early leavers from education and training (it refers to persons aged 18 to 24 who has completed at most lower secondary education and are not involved in further education or training – Eurostat definition). We are writing about it in our other articles.


COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION of 22 April 2013 on establishing a Youth Guarantee,

Escudero, Verónica & López Mourelo, Elva (2017), “The European Youth Guarantee: A systematic review of its implementation across countries”, International Labour Organisation,—dgreports/—inst/documents/publication/wcms_572465.pdf

Eurostat glossary:

Mascherini, Massimiliano (2018) “Origins and future of the concept of NEETs in the European policy agenda”, in: “Youth Labor in Transition: Inequalities, Mobility, and Policies in Europe” (2018), 

“Youth on the Move” website:


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