Youth unemployment remains a significant problem in most EU countries. In this paper we explore the dynamics of this problem by comparing young people's transitions from unemployment to employment in nine member states. Using the first two waves of the European Community Household Panel, we follow the progress of 14,600 young Europeans over a two-year period. We examine how the employment prospects of young unemployed people are affected by their country of residence and by their personal characteristics such as age, gender, parenthood and educational attainment as well as by previous work experience and unemployment duration. We attempt to unpack the cross-national differences in the underlying transition rate by substituting country names with macro/institutional level variables such as youth long-term unemployment rates, active labour market policy expenditure, employment regulation regimes and benefit provisions for unemployed young people.