Lithuania took over the reins of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from Ireland for second half of 2013 on the 1st July. On 11th – 12th July, Ministers of the European Union responsible for social security and employment met in Vilnius to deliberate the problem of youth unemployment and the need for a harmonisation of EU social and economic policy objectives. The European Alliance for Apprenticeships was a key topic during discussion.
The Presidency unveiled its priorities for the next six months, which revolves around the phase of credible, growing and open Europe. Youth unemployment is a hot topic in the Presidency’s in-tray, with proposals to improve the social inclusion of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs). Earlier this month the Lithuanian Presidency, the European Commission and social partners signed a declaration of intent scheduling further action in relation to the European Alliance for Apprenticeships. This is a particular measure to ensure efficient and high-quality mechanisms in the member states allowing young people to acquire the necessary working experience and skills. The Lithuanian Presidency will also draft a Council Declaration on the establishment of European Alliance for Apprenticeships, which will be presented for reading during the next Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council.
The European Youth Forum welcomes the Lithuanian Presidency and looks forward to working with the Presidency on various youth initiatives over the next six months. The Youth Forum welcomes and supports the call on member states to promote active labour market measures and to work on more effective vocational and education systems to facilitate the transition from school to work. The Forum calls upon the Lithuanian Presidency to consider the European Quality Charter on Internships and Apprenticeships, that lays basic quality principles for internships and apprenticeships to become a valuable and quality experience across Europe.