Germany sees "revolution" if welfare model scrapped
By Ingrid Melander and Nicholas Vinocur
PARIS (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble warned on Tuesday that failure to win the battle against youth unemployment could tear Europe apart, while abandoning the continent's welfare model in favour of tougher U.S. standards would cause "revolution".
Germany, along with France and Italy, backed urgent action to rescue a generation of young Europeans who fear they will not find jobs, with youth unemployment in the EU standing at nearly one in four, more than twice the adult rate.
"We need to be more successful in our fight against youth unemployment, otherwise we will lose the battle for Europe's unity," Schaeuble said.
While Germany insists on the importance of budget consolidation, Schaeuble spoke of the need to preserve Europe's welfare model.
If U.S. welfare standards were introduced in Europe, "we would have revolution, not tomorrow, but on the very same day," Schaeuble told a conference in Paris.
"We have to rescue an entire generation of young people who are scared. We have the best-educated generation and we are putting them on hold. This is not acceptable," Italian Labour minister Enrico Giovannini said.
Germany in particular, weary of a backlash as many in crisis-hit European countries blame it for austerity, has over the past weeks taken steps to tackle unemployment, striking bilateral deals with Spain and Portugal.
German ministers told the conference that, to help young people find jobs, Europe must continue on the path of structural reforms to boost its competitiveness as well as make good use of available EU funds, including 6 billion euros that leaders have set aside for youth employment for 2014-20. Continued...