Germany's Merkel hosts European youth jobs summit
BERLIN (AP) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel is bringing together officials from across Europe on Wednesday to discuss how best to get young people into jobs, but is insisting that money alone won't be enough.
The heads of the 28 European Union countries' national labor agencies and their labor ministers were meeting before Merkel joins French President Francois Hollande and other leaders at a conference in Berlin.
EU leaders have agreed to put aside 6 billion euros ($7.8 billion) starting next year, on top of other funding, to fight youth unemployment. How the money could be used will be one talking point, though decisions aren't expected until later this year.
German officials say that, adding in money from sources such as the European Investment Bank and other European funds, the total available to tackle youth unemployment in the short term is above 20 billion euros.
The conference is primarily aimed at comparing notes on what measures countries can take to bring down an unemployment rate among under-25s that stood at 23.1 percent across the EU in May.
The worst-affected countries, Spain and Greece, have youth unemployment rates above 50 percent; in Germany, the rate is just 7.6 percent. Those figures exclude young people studying full-time.
"Youth unemployment is perhaps the most pressing European problem at the moment," Merkel said in an interview with Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung and five other European newspapers published Wednesday.
Among other things, she said, Europe needs more flexible labor markets and more mobile work forces.
Merkel called for an existing European student exchange system to be extended to apprentices. Germany also has held up its "dual training" system, under which apprentices receive formal education while also doing paid work, as an example to others.
No new pledges of money are expected Wednesday. Merkel said that the problem "can't be cured with money alone, but with smart reforms."
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