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French isles top EU jobless table

Workers' protest in Le Moule, Guadeloupe, 14 Feb 09
The general strike threatens the French Caribbean's key tourism sector

Four French overseas territories had the highest unemployment rates in the 27-nation EU in 2007, the EU's statistics agency Eurostat says.

The Indian Ocean island of Reunion topped the list, with 25.2%, followed by Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana, all in the Caribbean region.

The two Spanish enclaves in Morocco - Ceuta and Melilla - came next, with rates of 20.3% and 18.2%, respectively.

Guadeloupe and Martinique are currently in the grip of a general strike.

Several dozen protesters were detained on Guadeloupe on Monday as police dismantled barricades erected by striking workers.

The protests over low wages and rising prices have closed shops and schools on the two islands.

FROM THE BBC WORLD SERVICE

The strike started on Guadeloupe four weeks ago, while Martinique has seen protests for just over a week.

The islands have a high cost of living and use the euro. Correspondents say many residents feel their salaries are not keeping up with rising prices.

According to the Eurostat figures, a total of 14 EU regions had an unemployment rate of 14.2% or higher in 2007 - a rate at least double the average in the EU.

Apart from the French overseas territories, the highest rates were in five regions of Germany, two each in Spain and Slovakia and one region in Belgium.

Unemployment rates for young people - in the 15-24 age range - were lowest in Gelderland (4.9%) and Utrecht (5%), both in the Netherlands, and highest in Guadeloupe (55.7%) and Reunion (50%).

In more than 70% of the EU regions for which data were available, the youth unemployment rate was at least double the total unemployment rate, Eurostat reports.



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SEE ALSO
France faces unrest in Caribbean
12 Feb 09 |  Europe
Regions and territories: Guadeloupe
22 Apr 08 |  Country profiles
Regions and territories: Martinique
29 Aug 12 |  Country profiles

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