what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Waste and Needs - where is the Imagination?

The young need hope to survive – but so many of Europe’s young people live in a hopeless situation – well-educated but fighting for jobs. The Greek situation is particularly horrific – with more than half of youngsters in their 20s unemployed – but things are almost that bad in countries such as Italy, Portugal and Spain. In Europe as a whole, there are 5 million youngsters (ie 16-24) jobless – an average of 1 in 4. This is a useful little paper on the subject.
In 2013 the EU established a 6 billion fund (for a 6 year period) to deal with the problem – less than a third of what the ILO had suggested in 2012 was actually needed. And a year later Angela Merkel had to admit that little progress was being made in the implementation of the Youth Employment Initiative.

Youth unemployment rates are slightly better in Bulgaria (one third) and Romania (one quarter) but the young people I know here are either working on short-term projects with EU funding; self-employed; working with friends and family; or (at best) climbing the greasy pole of academia…..

European money in these two countries is mind-boggling in its scale - but its impact difficult to see. It is notoriously difficult to access – even in northern Europe where they tend to play by the book. In southern countries, the behavior of civil servants, municipal officials and their various political and business patrons makes life even more difficult for those with pet projects. Hardly surprisingly, therefore, that we have seen various scandals in the management of the huge funds which the EU has seen fit to transfer to these countries in the last few years. This has led to “absorption” rates of less than 20% (in 2012 Romanian managed 11% but Bulgaria 34%!!) - although Balkan Insight tells us that Romania’s rate was 30% in 2013. 

That’s 1 billion euros actually paid out in one year – mainly for motorways….although the total value of the contracts signed off that year was a mind-boggling 17 billion euros

The only projects I see in my part of the Carpathians are actually tiny - but counter-productive – grants to guesthouses which take the money from the mouth of the older village residents who have tried to supplement their meagre existence with “Cazare” (bed and breakfasts)…..

What I don’t see is any attempt at creative harnessing of the money to the multiple social needs in rural areas – decrepit social and physical infrastructure could be brought into the 21st century with the help of the trained skills of young people.
But that would require not only new forms of social enterprise – but a more Germanic approach to skill development, encouraging not just the fashionable IT skills (and academic learning) but also the more practical skills required in rural areas……

I googled “social enterprise in Romania” and was encouraged to find several reasonably recent reports. The academic ones hardly worth wasting time on but this 2014 country report made for interesting reading

This past couple of weeks, my village authorities have been busy upgrading the little road which runs below my garden – it doesn’t go anywhere, just connects about 10 houses only 3 of which use cars (mine being one) so fairly pointless. But the “Bucharest Live” blog gives us a lovely insight into such roads in another part of Transylvania

I wish someone would do a real study of the mentalities (and networks!) of the people who have the fate of such places in their hands…….

No comments:

Post a Comment