Rome

Italian Premier stands by youth in struggle for jobs

British PM holds up EU budget talks

Italian Premier stands by youth in struggle for jobs

(By Kate Carlisle) Rome, June 27 - Italian Premier Enrico Letta said that he would "fight together" with young people at the European Union summit that started on Thursday. One of the main issues to be tackled at the two-day summit is the fight on youth unemployment and Letta insisted this problem would feature at the top of the agenda. Youth unemployment is a big problem in recession-hit Italy, with around four in 10 people aged 15-24 out of work. Most European countries are also struggling with a high level of unemployment among young citizens. On Wednesday Letta's left-right executive passed a package of measures that it hopes will generate around 200,000 jobs for under-30s by giving tax breaks to companies that take on people in this age range. Before entering the meeting with EU leaders, Letta told a group of young Italians in Brussels who gave him a letter calling for him to battle to create jobs for youngsters: "Today we will fight together". "The most important contest will be at the summit, where this issue will be the first addressed by the European Council". Following meetings earlier in the day, Letta said the summit and discussions on youth unemployment and growth started off on the right foot. Two important accords on banks and budget policy were reached earlier in the day. EU finance ministers reached agreements on how to manage possible future bank failures in the region, after talks on the issue in Luxembourg failed to result in an agreement last week. Thursday's agreement also laid the foundation for the strengthening of the European banking union plan aimed at sharing and strengthening supervision of the sector. However, a proposed agreement for the 2014-2020 European Union budget was held up by British Prime Minister David Cameron because of proposed cuts in Britain's rebate won by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. EU sources said the reduction was "purely technical" but Cameron insisted it would lop 100-200 million euros off rural development funds. A proposal rubber-stamped by the heads of the European Parliament and EU overcoming months of divisions over a the 960-billion-euro budget to finance EU projects is expected to get final approval next week, sources said. EU sources said delegates were "determined" to avert Cameron's stand to sink an overall agreement, including crucial six billion euros in funds to combat youth unemployment throughout the eurozone. European leaders reached a preliminary agreement for the seven-year budget at a summit in February, but its ratification has been pending.

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