As mass unemployment bites ever deeper across the EU, Valter Piscedda, the center-left mayor of Elmas, a small city in Sardinia, suggested paying locals to leave, according to The Guardian. Elmas’s council has allocated a total of €12,000 to pay for English lessons, accommodation and cheap flights for 10 unemployed locals to look for jobs in other parts of Europe.
RT: There has been a high level of unemployment for the past few years in Europe. Where are EU citizens looking for a job now? Which region is more attractive for them?
Glyn Ford: At one level, I can understand that you are trying to find jobs, it is rather reminiscent of the former Tory cabinet minister Norman Tebbit who, when the people in the North of England complained there were no jobs, suggested they got on their bikes and cycled to London to find jobs in London. Of course governments have the responsibility to try and to get economic activity across the whole of their country, the whole of their nation, and the whole of the European Union.
But of course there is nothing that the local mayor can do about that. I think he’d be better off spending this 12,000 euros actually trying to campaign to end austerity in Europe. We want a different Europe, and we can have a different Europe where people can stay at home and work as they used to be able in the past rather than trek around the EU looking for a shrinking a number of jobs that are disappearing everywhere. I am not sure where these people are going to go. I wish them luck. And certainly having English-language training won’t hurt. But there is still a shortage of jobs in the UK. We have high unemployment rates as well. There in nowhere to go where jobs are easily found.
RT: The UK has also faced high levels of unemployment. Is there the possibility of training British citizens in other EU languages and sending them to other EU countries? Do you have any other possible solutions?
GF: I guess we could have somebody in the North-East of England or the North-West of England: some local mayor finding 10,000 pounds – roughly the equivalent of 12,000 euros – to train people in Italian and send them to Italy. This is not a solution.
The solution is to do something at the European level. I wish the mayor well, but I think what he would most usefully spend this time doing is campaigning for his government – he said he’s center-left – under the prime minister, [Matteo] Renzi, to actually unite with socialist ministers across the European Union to change the direction of Europe. And I`m hoping the new European Commission that will take office on November 1st – subject to the European Parliament’s approval – will actually end austerity in Europe and get the EU back to work with high-skilled, high-tech jobs, rather than the zero-hours contracts that are so common these days.
RT: Which language is in demand among employers today in Europe?
GF: Frankly, if you are looking for the best language to have to find a job in Europe at the moment, you’re probably better off with German. English comes second and Spanish is definitely third with their massive unemployment levels. There are more people learning English in China than living in the UK. So there is going to be a lot of competition.