The record unemployment blighting much of Europe will be the focus of attention at a two-day EU summit set to open in Brussels.
Austria's youth apprenticeships have earned praise in the EU
Across the EU, nearly a quarter of people aged 18 to 25 have no job. In Greece and Spain more than half of people in that age group are jobless.
EU leaders will consider mobilising 6bn euros (£5bn; $8bn) earlier than planned to help youth training schemes.
There are also plans to boost bank lending to small businesses.
A source at the European Commission said an extra 10bn euros in funding for the European Investment Bank (EIB) could be used to encourage private banks to lend more to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), especially in the struggling southern "periphery" economies hit hard by the euro crisis.
The idea is to turn that 10bn into EIB guarantees worth 100bn - enough to cover loans issued by private banks. The source stressed that "it is not new money" - it would come from the EU structural funds already earmarked for Europe's poorer regions.Weak lending
The focus is on SMEs because they account for about 99% of businesses in the EU, employing about 70% of the workforce, the Commission said. Despite the SMEs' importance in EU labour markets, bank lending to them fell by 10% in the first quarter of this year.
But the source told journalists at a pre-summit briefing that co-ordinating action on jobs "is not easy at European level - social policy is mainly a national competence".
The Commission's Youth Guarantee plan would offer young people across Europe a quality apprenticeship or job in the first four months after becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.
The EU Commissioner for Employment, Laszlo Andor, says the scheme could help to reduce the growing north-south competitiveness gap in the EU.
But the heavy lifting of job creation still has to be done by national governments, by making labour markets more flexible, stimulating growth and easing the tax and administrative burdens on SMEs, the Commission admits.
John Springford, an economic analyst at the Centre for European Reform, said the EU was facing "very large political roadblocks" hampering the necessary macro-economic changes.
"They are stumbling towards integration very slowly - when the financial markets relax the pressure, the progress stalls," the think-tank analyst told BBC News.
Germany - one of Europe's few economic bright spots amid the gloom of the euro crisis - is especially loath to pool risk at European level ahead of its general election in September, Mr Springford said.
Germany is making any aid for struggling eurozone economies strictly conditional on them enacting structural reforms, such as making it easier for companies to hire and fire. But such reforms are generally slow to bear fruit.
The draft summit conclusions, seen by the BBC, say the leaders note "the importance of shifting taxation away from labour as a means of increasing employability and boosting job creation and competitiveness".
The leaders will also discuss progress towards a eurozone banking union, as their finance ministers continue tough negotiations on a planned joint bank resolution scheme to deal with troubled banks.
It is proving tricky to agree on how losses would be borne by the stakeholders in struggling banks - that is, the bondholders, investors and holders of deposits above 100,000 euros.
This year's Cyprus banking crisis, with the unprecedented imposition of capital controls, has made EU governments cautious about taking on additional financial risks.
There are still fears that a bank run in one country could spread contagion across a still fragile eurozone