According to the commissioner, the unemployment rate in January reached 7.3 percent, a significant 0.7 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
"The pandemic has caused 6 million job losses. Young people are particularly hard-hit, with nearly 3 million young people currently unemployed in the EU", he said, adding that the government's duty now is to make sure "they do not become a lost generation".
In response to the crisis, the commission has launched a youth employment support programme to help member states launch national short-time work schemes and take other measures to preserve employment. Over the last year, about 30 million people across 18 European counties benefited from the project, the commissioner informed Sputnik.
Another 1.5 to 2.5 million companies affected by the pandemic received financing through the Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE) instrument, allowing them to retain workers, Schmit stated.
Helping Homeless People
The commissioner also noted that the commission and the Council of the EU are preparing for the June launch of the EU Collaboration Platform on Homelessness.
"We will ... launch together with the Portuguese Presidency of the Council in June a European platform to combat homelessness. The number of homeless people has increased and we want to address this situation", Schmit said.
"One of those targets is to reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU by at least 15 million by 2030. Out of this at least 5 million should be children", Schmit clarified.
Among other social initiatives presented by the commission at the beginning of March was the Child Guarantee prompting member states to increase support for children growing up with a risk of poverty or social exclusion.
"These children are less likely to perform well in school, to be in good health, to find a decent job when they grow up, and more likely to remain socially excluded as adults, too. We want to break this cycle by guaranteeing free access to early childcare, quality education and cultural and sportive activities, healthcare as well as affordable housing and good nutrition", the commissioner stated.