High-level officials from the European Union (EU) and the United States here on Thursday discussed ways to fight long-term unemployment, as more than 21 million EU citizens are currently out of work, according to official figures.
The event was hosted by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Christopher Lu, and was joined by EU Commissioner Marianne Thyssen who is in charge of employment, social affairs, skills and labor mobility.
The event drew delegates from the European Commission, labor ministries and public employment services from several EU member states.
Lu noted that the round-table took place almost 20 years to the day from when the memorandum of understanding establishing the U.S.-EU working group on employment and labor-related issues was signed.
"For more than two decades, we have enjoyed a robust and constructive relationship with the EU. Together, we have addressed many of the most pressing labor and employment issues," Lu said.
The round-table discussion offered leaders opportunities to exchange policy approaches and best practices in combating long-term unemployment, the European Commission said in a statement.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez announced the nation's unemployment rate had fallen to 5.0 percent with two-thirds of the rate's decline in the last year owing to the long-term unemployed having found jobs.
In the EU, long-term unemployment decreased in 2015 by 1.2 million people, a 10-percent improvement from 2014. According to the latest figures released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU, the unemployment rate was 8.8 percent in March 2016 in the 28-member bloc, the lowest rate recorded since April 2009.
However, Eurostat estimated that 21.491 million people in the EU, of whom 16.437 million were in the 19-member eurozone, were unemployed in March 2016. Meanwhile, the youth unemployment rate was still as high as 19.1 percent in the EU and 21.2 percent in the eurozone.
EU and U.S. leaders addressed the need for concerted action to tackle this issue, suggesting business, local governments, and community organizations develop strong partnerships to reduce long-term unemployment.
Both parties agreed to further exchanges on evidence-based policies and facilitating stronger partnerships on both sides of the Atlantic.
"I welcome the increasing EU-U.S. cooperation on global labor and employment issues...Deeper dialogue leads to improved policies," Thyssen said.