Europe’s rising tide of discontent mirrors its rising unemployment figures. Last week, on May 1st, which ironically is Labor Day in Europe, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union (E.U.), published the unemployment figures for the 27 E.U. member states. These figures are at a record high. Over 26.5 million people – one in every eight Europeans – are currently unemployed. The figures are highest in Greece (27.2 percent), Spain (26.7 percent) and Portugal (17.5 percent). They are lowest in the three German-speaking E.U. member states: Austria (4.7 percent, Germany (5.4 percent) and Luxemburg (5.7 percent). For the E.U. as a whole the unemployment figure is 10.9 percent. In the Eurozone – the group of 17 E.U. member states that use the Euro as their common currency – the figure is even higher and stands at 12.1 percent. This is far worse than in Japan (4.3 percent) and in the United States (7.6 percent).
If someone loses his job at around 45 years of age, chances of finding other employment are only five percent. The worst-off, however, are Europe’s young. Unemployment for those aged 25 years or younger is dramatically high. One in every four young Europeans is unemployed. Youth unemployment stands at 50.5 percent in Spain, 50.4 percent in Greece, 35.4 percent in Portugal, 31.9 percent in Italy, and 31.6 percent in Ireland. In Austria and Germany the figure is 7.6%, in the Netherlands 10.5 percent, in Luxemburg 19.7 percent.
Talented young people from Southern Europe are looking for jobs in Northern Europe, where unemployment is lower. But even there, with youth unemployment hovering around or above 10 percent, a growing number of young people are looking for employment elsewhere: in America, Canada, Australia, and the non-E.U. states of Europe. Last year, 80,000 immigrants from the E.U. settled in Switzerland. Last week, the Swiss authorities announced that starting on May 1st they are restricting the number of immigrants from E.U. countries.
The rising unpopularity of the E.U. is not occurring only in Northern Europe, whose peoples have to bail out the South, but also in Southern Europe — a hopeful sign. It indicates that even in Southern Europe, at the receiving end of the financial transfers, people realize that the Euro and the E.U.’s authoritarian and vainglorious project of molding the various peoples of Europe into a single state is leading to disaster. Even in the South, people realize that it is better to have a job of their own than to live off handouts.
Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.