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EU to combat youth unemployment

Funding for the Youth Employment Initiative.

After agreeing to a deal on rescuing failed banks on Wednesday, the finance ministers of the European Union (EU) yesterday agreed to allocate €6bn for the next two years to create jobs and provide apprenticeships for youth as part of the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI).

The funding will be provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The leaders also agreed to prioritise lending for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in countries with high rate of youth unemployment and where new investments are needed to promote growth and jobs through the launch of a new investment plan.

Herman Van Rompuy, president of EU Council, said that the idea is to increase synergies between the EU budget and the European Investment Bank, so as to leverage private investments to finance millions of SMEs.

Citing that the deal was possible because all sides have gone the extra mile, Jose Manuel Barroso, president of European Commission in a press statement, said: “This is a good deal for Europe, this is a good deal for European citizens, this is a good deal for the European economy.

“The deal includes frontloading of expenditure on critical issues like youth employment, research, youth, namely Erasmus, and also SMEs. The deal includes also the possibility for the countries that so wish to increase the aid for most deprived people. The deal also confirms the agreement reached for this year amending budget and it gives guarantees that there will be the payments for European beneficiaries.”

The deal is subject to the approval of the European Parliament and the Council.

Furthermore, the 27 member nations of the EU have also reached an agreement on a seven-year €960bn budget deal.

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No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.