Mar 14 - Soaring unemployment and biting austerity top the agenda at a summit of EU leaders, with the social consequences of the region's debt crisis now seen as the greatest threat to the survival of the single currency. Joel Flynn reports.
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**NONE** A lost generation - a term used all too often in Europe. 11 percent of work-age people in the EU are out of work - and most of them are young. Many of the unemployed blame political leaders. Tens of thousands took to the streets in Brussels as the latest summit got underway. Inside too jobs were top of the agenda. SOUNDBITE: German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, saying (German): "There will be an emphasis on the fight against youth unemployment. We have decided on a growth pact, and the money is there but it has to reach the young people in Europe to help them get jobs, and still ensure we remain competitive and grow." With no Irish, Greek or Portuguese fires to put out the meeting is a chance to assess the fallout from the turmoil. State Street's Michael Metcalfe. SOUNDBITE: State Street Senior Vice President and Head Of Macro Strategy, Michael Metcalfe, saying (English): "What they need are targeted spending programmes at the long-term unemployed, and so these are public works programmes, but obviously they come at a cost, and you know I think within the confines of Austerity with a capital A, it's extremely difficult for governments to enact those programmes, and so what we need to see is austerity with a small a." The pain of austerity and its effect on growth has been raised by several governments - including France. Germany's latest budget plans -- announced this week -- were criticised by euro zone partners. They want fewer cuts and more stimulus. Citi bank's Valetine Marinov says leaders should be looking across the Atlantic. SOUNDBITE: Citi FX Strategist, Valentine Marinov, (English): "Interestingly enough the euro zone officials, especially the creditor countries, are still resisting calls for less fiscal austerity and more pro-growth policies. There seems to be very little movement on that from here, but I guess ultimately reason will prevail. Really the U.S. experience is quite attractive in that only gradual fiscal austerity accompanied by aggressive monetary easing is indeed delivering results." EU leaders have already vowed to spend 6 billion euros on youth unemployment. That's barely 100 euros for each young person out of work. One German economist recently warned unemployment in countries like Greece and Spain could lead to the collapse of the euro.