According to Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake (ALDE/ D66) structural improvements to the economic governance of the EU are essential in order to combat high levels of youth unemployment in Europe. Today in Strasbourg the European Parliament discussed its recommendations to the EU Member States for a more effective solution to the issue of youth unemployment. Schaake: "Due to the lack of leadership and vision on the part of the EU Member States and the Commission, structural problems with the European economy and the banking sector remain unresolved. These are the main causes of unemployment. Youths are now paying the price for this political paralysis. We must do everything in our power to prevent a lost generation and force a breakthrough." Opportunities Ambitious reforms of the European internal market for services and new trade agreements are needed to get the European economy back on track. Investments focused on specific sectors should also contribute to a much needed modernisation of Europe's economy. "While education, ICT and innovation are crucial for our global competitiveness, these sectors are at risk of being snowed under in the EU's multiannual budget negotiations," says Schaake. "This hinders Europe's economic recovery, making the proposed measures to tackle youth unemployment nothing more than a band-aid for lack of structural solutions. Future of education Aside from structural reforms concrete steps should be taken to better prepare youths for the job market of the future. Enhanced cooperation between businesses and the education sector, as well as stimulating international exchanges under the Erasmus program prepares youths for their transition from education to work and improves their employability in an ever more international job market. Schaake: "A serious solution to youth unemployment demands an ambitious vision for the future of education in Europe. By focusing on improving their language skills, ICT skills and critical thinking, we can better prepare youths for future developments on the job market." On June 27 and 28 the European Council will discuss the issue of youth unemployment.