DER SPIEGEL: Jobless Youth: Europe’s Hollow Efforts to Save a Lost Generation




The strong man is the one who is able to intercept at will

the communication between the senses and the mind.
Napoleon Bonaparte









Europe is failing in the fight against youth unemployment. While the German government’s efforts remain largely symbolic, Southern European leaders pander to older voters by defending the status quo.

Stylia Kampani did everything right, and she still doesn’t know what the future holds for her. The 23-year-old studied international relations in her native Greece and spent a year at the University of Bremen in northern Germany. She completed an internship at the foreign ministry in Athens and worked for the Greek Embassy in Berlin. Now she is doing an unpaid internship with the prestigious Athens daily newspaper Kathimerini. And what happens after that? “Good question,” says Kampani. “I don’t know.”


“None of my friends believes that we have a future or will be able to live a normal life,” says Kampani. “That wasn’t quite the case four years ago.”

Four years ago — that was before the euro crisis began. Since then, the Greek government has approved a series of austerity programs, which have been especially hard on young people. The unemployment rate among Greeks under 25 has been above 50 percent for months. The situation is similarly dramatic in SpainPortugal and Italy. According to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics office, the rate of unemployment among young adults in the EU has climbed to 23.5 percent. A lost generation is taking shape in Europe. And European governments seem clueless when they hear the things people like Athenian university graduate Alexandros are saying: “We don’t want to leave Greece, but the constant uncertainty makes us tired and depressed.”

Instead of launching effective education and training programs to prepare Southern European youth for a professional life after the crisis, the Continent’s political elites preferred to wage old ideological battles. There were growing calls for traditional economic stimulus programs at the European Commission in Brussels. The governments of debt-ridden countries paid more attention to the status quo of their primarily older voters. Meanwhile, the creditor nations in the north were opposed to anything that could cost money.

In this way, Europe wasted valuable time, at least until governments were shaken early this month by news of a very worrisome record:Unemployment among 15- to 24-year-olds has climbed above 60 percent in Greece.

Suddenly Europe is scrambling to address the problem. Youth unemployment will top the agenda of a summit of European leaders in June. And Italy’s new prime minister, Enrico Letta, is demanding that the fight against youth unemployment become an “obsession” for the EU.

Big Promises, Scant Results

These are strong words coming out of Europe’s capitals today, but they have not been followed by any action to date.

For instance, in February the European Council voted to set aside an additional €6 billion ($7.8 billion) to fight youth unemployment by 2020, tying the package to a highly symbolic job guarantee. But because member states are still arguing over how the money should be spent, the package can’t begin earlier than 2014.

A recent Franco-German effort remains equally nebulous. Berlin and Paris want to encourage employers in Southern Europe to hire and train young people by providing them with loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The concept is supposed to be unveiled at the end of May. German Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen is its strongest advocate.

In contrast, German efforts to combat the crisis have been limited to recruiting skilled workers from Greece, Spain and Portugal. But now politicians are realizing that high unemployment in Athens and Madrid is a threat to democracy and could be the kiss of death for the euro zone. Perhaps it takes reaching a certain age to recognize the problem. “We need a program to eliminate youth unemployment in Southern Europe. (European Commission President José Manuel) Barroso has failed to do so,” says former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, now 94. “This is a scandal beyond compare.”

Economists also argue that it’s about time Europe did something about the problem. “The long-term prospects of young people in the crisis-ridden countries are extremely grim. This increases the risk of radicalization of an entire generation,” warns Joachim Möller, director of Germany’s Institute of Employment Research, a labor market think tank. “It was a mistake for politicians to acknowledge the problem but do nothing for so long,” says Michael Hüther, head of the Cologne Institute for Economic Research, which is closely aligned with employers. And Wolfgang Franz, former chairman of the German Council of Economic Experts, says that “unconventional approaches” are called for to combat not just youth unemployment but also its long-term negative consequences. “Someone who is unemployed in his or her younger years will spend a lifetime struggling with poorer career opportunities and lower pay,” he adds.

In Berlin, the German government is now trying to create the impression that it is doing as much as possible while spending as little as possible. The Franco-German proposal to help Southern European employers is a case in point. Under the plan, the €6 billion from the EU youth assistance program would be distributed to companies through the EIB and thus would multiply, as if by magic. In the end, speculate the plan’s proponents, 10 times as much money could be brought into circulation, putting an end to the credit crunch facing many Southern European small businesses.

But even the EIB can’t quite imagine how this approach would result in €60 billion. “That number isn’t coming from us,” say officials in Luxembourg. It seems that €20-30 billion would be a more realistic figure for the coming years.

As it is, there are doubts over the usefulness of broad injections of cash. The first measures coming from Brussels were ineffective and came to nothing. Last year, the European Commission promised the crisis-stricken countries that they could use unspent money from structural funds to implement projects to provide jobs to unemployed youth. Some €16 billion had been applied for by the beginning of this year, funds intended to benefit 780,000 young people. But the experiences are sobering, and concrete successes are few and far between.

An Alternative Solution?

The German cabinet is hastily putting together a different, cost-effective solution. At a roundtable convened by the Ministry of Education two weeks ago, officials from nine departments and representatives of various associations discussed how Germany’s dual vocational education and training model could be exported to other countries. Companies tout the advantages of the German system, with its emphasis on practical application, and are critical of the overly academic system in Southern Europe.

According to a draft of a position paper the German cabinet intends to discuss in June, Germany wants to support the crisis-stricken countries in “incorporating elements of dual vocational education and training into their respective systems.” The government intends to set up a new “Central Office for International Educational Cooperation” at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, which could send advisors to the crisis-stricken countries when needed. Ten new positions have already been approved for the new office.

Economist Wolfgang Franz thinks it’s the right approach. “We have to improve education and training, especially in the crisis-stricken countries,” he says. But there is one thing that irritates him. “We should have started this long ago,” says Franz, noting that this criticism also applies to the troubled countries themselves, which failed to implement many reforms when they were needed.

Spain, for example, has lagged behind the rest of Europe for years when it comes to education. It holds the questionable record of having the highest percentage of school dropouts in the EU: 24.9 percent. Paradoxically, Spain’s conservative government slashed €10 billion in education funding in 2012. It also eliminated tax breaks for companies that hire newcomers to the job market. The curtailment of support for education is especially noteworthy, given that the majority of the country’s 6.2 million unemployed are poorly trained and educated.

Spain’s problem is that workers are divided into two classes. Since the Franco dictatorship, it has been virtually impossible to fire people who already have jobs. Young people, on the other hand, have often had to settle for occasional jobs with almost no social security benefits. They were the first to be affected by the crisis. Those who had jobs lost them, and those who didn’t were unable to find work — even people as qualified as 25-year-old Ignacio Martín.

After earning a double degree in political science and law from the renowned Charles III University of Madrid, Martín worked without pay as a legal advisor to immigrants. He and two friends now represent a small actors’ union, for which they are paid €950 a month. Martín earns so little that he is unable to afford a room in the capital. Instead, he lives with his unemployed mother in Aravaca, a Madrid suburb.

The key to combating youth unemployment is to reform the divided labor market. But as an internal report by the German government shows, the crisis-stricken countries have hardly made any progress on this front. According to the report, Portugal potentially has “additional efficiency reserves in its school system,” while Greece is showing only a few signs of progress, such as a plan to “assist young unemployed women.”

The problems associated with a divided labor market are especially striking in Italy, where older workers with employment contracts that are practically non-terminable hold onto jobs, making them inaccessible to younger workers. The words on a demonstrator’s T-shirt in Naples summed up the mood among young people: “I don’t want to die of uncertainty.”

In Athens, young university graduate Stylia Kampani is now thinking of starting over. She is considering moving to Germany. And this time, she adds, she might stay there.


Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan


a little about me and my expertise – video




LAND SALES IN PHOENIX from 4-10-2013


Feel free to contact Walter regarding any of these stories, the current market, distressed commercial real estate opportunities and needs, your property or your Investment Needs for Comercial Investment Properties in Phoenix.



View my listings and my profile at:




Please go to my web-site and get all the newsflashes and updates in Commercial Investment Real Estate in Phoenix and Commercial Investment Properties in Phoenix daily


Follow me on Facebook:

Follow me on Twitter:

Follow Me on Linkedin:

Follow Me on Google+


Walter Unger CCIM, CCSS, CCLS

I am a successful Commercial Investment Real Estate Broker in Arizona now for 15 years and I worked with banks and their commercial REO properties for 3 years. I am also a commercial and  Landspecialist in Phoenix and a Landspecialist in Arizona.






In my opinion we are at bottom of the cycle in Commercial Real Estate in Phoenix, so there is only one way and it’s called we are going up again and now is the time for you to expand, upgrade or invest in Commercial Properties in Phoenix.  The prices on deals I may get you will not be around forever.







  We barely could give land away the last few years, but times are changing.  Even in those meager years, I sold more land across the state than most other brokers. Before the real estate crash I was a land specialist in Arizona with millions of dollars of transactions, but then I had to change and also sell other commercial investment properties, which was fun, but I am a Commercial Landspecialist in Arizonal, a Commercial Land Specialist in Phoenix and love to sell land, one acre to thousands of acres.

Since I was a Land Specialist in Arizona and a Land Speciaost in Phoenix many of my clients, Sellers and Buyers remember me and now they are calling me again, so this is the time to get back into land and none of my clients, including future clients, will miss out on getting their best deal.

Also, if you are up-side down on your land, like many Americans, and the lender is giving you a hard time, now is the time to put your land on the market. Lenders are making deals now with short sales.  I have been working with banks for many years – I learned how to work with them.


If you have any questions about the 1 to  3 above, about Commercial Investment Properties in Phoenix or Commercial Investment Properties in Arizona,  I will gladly sit down with you and share my expertise and my professional opinion in Commercial Properties in Phoenix or Commercial Properties in Arizona with you.Obviously I am also in this to make money, but it could be a win-win situation for all of us.


Please reply by e-mail or call me 520-975-5207 (cell)  602-778-5110 (office direct).




Thank You



Walter Unger CCIM

Associate Broker

Kasten Long Commercial

2821 E. Camelback Road, Suite 600

Phoenix, AZ 85016

Cell:      520-975-5207

Direct:   602-759-1202

Office :  602-445-4141

Fax:      602-445-4188


Delivering the New Standard of Excellence in Commercial Real Estate



  • Commercial Real Estate Scottsdale
  • Commercial Real Estate Phoenix
  • Commercial Real Estate Arizona
  • Commercial Investment Properties Phoenix
  • Commercial Investment Properties Scottsdale
  • Commercial Investment Properties Arizona
  • Land Specialist Arizona
  • Arizona Land Specialist
  • Land Specialist Phoenix
  • Phoenix Land Specialist
  • Land For Sale Phoenix
  • Land for sale Arizona
  • Commercial Properties For Sale Phoenix
  • Commercial Real Estate Sales Phoenix
  • Commercial Properties Phoenix
  • Commercial Properties Arizona
  • Commercial Land Specialist Phoenix
  • Commercial Land Phoenix
  • Multifamily land Phoenix
  • Retail Land Phoenix
  • Industrial Land Phoenix
  • Land Commercial Phoenix
  • Land Retail Phoenix
  • Land Industrial Phoenix
  • Land Multifamily Phoenix
  • Industrial Land for sale Phoenix
  • Land Industrial
  • P




Disclaimer of Liability

The information in this blog-newsletter is for general guidance only, and does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services, investment advice, or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, accounting, legal, or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation. Tax articles in this e-newsletter are not intended to be used, and cannot be used by any taxpayer, for the purpose of avoiding accuracy-related penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. The information is provided “as is,” with no assurance or guarantee of completeness, accuracy, or timeliness of the information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.