Banks saved, but Europe risks ‘losing a generation’
BRUSSELS - Reuters
European Parliament President Martin Schulz speaks at a Reuters Summit. REUTERS photoEurope has spent hundreds of billions of euros rescuing its banks but may have lost an entire generation of young people in the process, the president of the European Parliament said.
Since the region’s debt crisis erupted in Greece in late 2009, the European Union has created complex rescue mechanisms to prop up distressed countries and their shaky banking sectors, setting aside a total of 700 billion euros.
But little has been done to tackle the devastating social impact of the crisis, with more than 26 million people unemployed across the EU, including one in every two young people in Greece, Spain and parts of Italy and Portugal.
That crippling level of unemployment has led to protests and outbreaks of violence across southern Europe, raising the threat of full-scale social breakdown, including rising crime and anti-immigrant attacks that can further rattle unstable governments.
“We saved the banks but are running the risk of losing a generation,” said Martin Schulz, a German socialist who has led the European Parliament, the EU’s only directly elected institution, since January last year.
Figures released last week showed 57 percent of Greeks aged 15 to 24 are out of work, and a similar scourge is tearing apart the fabric of Spain, where some university graduates in their 30s have never had a job.
European Union heads of state and government will discuss the fallout from the debt crisis at a summit on March 14-15.