EU aid to redundant workers would continue in 2014-2020, and could also go to additional categories of workers, such as the self-employed (including farmers) and those on temporary contracts, under legislative amendments voted by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee on Tuesday. The legislation, which would renew the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, is currently opposed by a blocking minority in the Council of Ministers.
"I am concerned about the existing blocking minority in Council and this mind-set to cut solidarity funds such as the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, which in the end represents a small part of the EU's long-term budget", underlined rapporteur Marian Harkin (ALDE, IE).
"It is paradoxical that certain member states, having benefitted from European Globalisation Adjustment Fund aid for their workers, now oppose the renewal of this fund for 2014-2020", said Employment and Social Committee chair Pervenche Berès (S&D, FR). The resolution was adopted with 35 votes in favour, 2 against and 3 abstentions.
Including all categories of workers
MEPs backed the Commission proposal to extend the EGF's scope to include workers with fixed-term contracts, temporary agency workers and owner-managers of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and self-employed (including farmers).
However, unlike the Commission, they did not favour earmarking a specific share of EGF aid for farmers. Redundant workers should have equal access to the EGF independently of their type of employment contract, they said.
According to the Commission's proposal of 6 October 2011, the maximum budget for the EGF for 2014-20210 should be €3 billion, of which no more than €2.5 billion could go to the agricultural sector.
EGF aid comes in addition to contributions from member states.
MEPs propose that the EGF share should usually cover 60% of the cost of the measures (such as job search assistance, training, vocational qualifications and support to set up businesses). The Commission initially proposed a co-funding rate of 50% as a norm.
The Employment and Social Affairs Committee also amended the regulation so that the EGF could fund up to 70% of costs in member states that are eligible for EU Cohesion Fund aid and 80% for those receiving assistance from the European Financial Stability Facility.
Speeding up the process
To enable the EGF to intervene faster, MEPs want to simplify aid application procedures and reduce that time that elapses between application and delivery.
The European Commission must complete the assessment of the application within 10 weeks of receiving a complete application, they say.
The next steps will be decided after the extraordinary summit of 22 and 23 November 2012 on the long-term budget for 2014-2020.