On 14 July 2023, MEP Jorge Buxadé asked the European Commission what the real Spanish youth unemployment rate is.
Officially, according to Eurostat figures for May, the rate is 29.4%, the worst in the EU and more than double the Union average.
However, that official figure should also include the so-called ‘permanent seasonal workers’ who, due to socialist-communist labour reforms, can be formally counted as employees even if they only worked one day per month.
In his response of 4 September, Commissioner Schmit states that permanent seasonal workers “may be reported to be unemployed”, as long as they meet the ILO definition during their periods of inactivity.
And what is that definition? In order for the International Labour Organisation to be considered unemployed, a person must meet three conditions: that is, not to be employed, be currently available for work, and be actively looking for a job.
If those three requisites are in place, the unemployment figures should include Pedro Sanchez’s permanent seasonal workers, whether he likes it or not.
Commissioner Schmit recognises that Spain has so far not included them in its national unemployment register. Consequently, he should increase the 29.4% official unemployment rate and produce a higher figure.
Yet he does not, and adds that according to the latest Eurostat figures, the youth unemployment rate was 22% in Spain in the first quarter of 2023. But how is that possible? There seems to be a flagrant contradiction – though in any case it looks striking that one out of four young workers in Spain is unemployed.
And it is also striking how the European Commission has written black on white that employment accounting practices on behalf of the Spanish government are wrong.
Secondly, ECR politician Jorge Buxadé recalled that the average salary of Spanish young people up to age 34 barely reaches the minimum wage (EUR 970 in 2020), according to the national Youth Council.
Asked whether the European Commission’s is prioritising the improvement of Spanish young people’s working conditions for the allocation of Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) funds, Schmit simply responds that he is satisfied with measures aiming to reduce early school leaving rate, to improve educational outcomes, to increase the employability of young people, and to reduce their high unemployment rate.
Nevertheless, that has little to do with working conditions: first of all, “employability of young people” and “reducing their high unemployment rate” mean exactly the same; while “reducing early school leaving rate” and “improving educational outcomes” simply have an indirect influence on salaries in the mid-term. Same with the new Vocational and Education Training System, approved in 2022. Apparently, nothing else needs to be done, according to the European Commission, to consider itself satisfied before disbursing the monies they manage.
Finally, the VOX official asked the Commission for an assessment of the fact that, under the current government, Spain has the highest youth unemployment rate in the EU, over 4% more than the second-highest rate (Greece).
Commissioner Schmit, a socialist himself, observes that the high youth unemployment rate has been a persistent long-standing challenge of the Spanish labour market, doubling the EU average for more than a decade. Incredibly enough, the Commission praises that both the youth unemployment rate and the share of young employees with temporary contracts have decreased in 2022.
If such joy for the Spanish catastrophe was not enough, the representative of the European Commission adds that unemployment and temporary contract figures are at their lowest value since 2009. Perhaps one could add that, according to Mrs. Von der Leyen’s team, the left wing Spanish executive has been the most successful for the past fourteen years.
Yet who would believe that? The honeymoon between Brussels and Madrid continues, while social standards are eroded quarter after quarter.