Parliament gave its green light on Thursday to grant €1,095,544 in EU aid to Belgium to help 412 workers made redundant by two glass manufacturers to find new jobs. A further 100 young unemployed people should also benefit from the plan. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aid still needs to be endorsed by the EU Council of Ministers.
The 412 employees were made redundant by the closure of two glass production plants in Wallonia, owned by AGC Europe SA (144 workers) and Saint-Gobain Glass Benelux (268). These two plants were located in the Hainaut and Namur regions of Belgium respectively. Belgium has also decided to include 100 young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs) in the plans. The total estimated number of beneficiaries is therefore 512.
The resolution drafted by Tomáš Zdechovský (EPP, CZ) was approved by 558 votes to 83, with 4 abstentions.
AGC Europe SA was forced to close down production in 2014, due to very strong competition from Asian producers and the continuing unfavourable European economic climate. Saint-Gobain Glass Benelux faced similar problems with its glass production in 2013, when production overcapacity in the Far East resulted in unsustainable price pressure from Asian producers. In 2014, it closed down production at its site in Auvelais (Namur region).
The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund contributes to packages of tailor-made services to help redundant workers find new jobs. Its annual ceiling is €150 million.
Redundant workers are offered measures such as support for business start-ups, job-search assistance, occupational guidance and various kinds of training. In most cases, national authorities have already started the measures and will have their costs reimbursed by the EU when their applications are finally approved.