Budgets Committee MEPs approved €1,824,041 in EU aid on Wednesday to support the reintegration in the labour market of 488 workers made redundant by several manufacturers of construction machinery in Wallonia. A further 300 young unemployed people should also benefit. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aid still needs to be approved by Parliament as a whole and by the Council of Ministers.
The 488 employees were made redundant by several manufacturers of construction machinery in the province of Hainaut (Wallonia, Belgium): Caterpillar Belgium, Carwall S.A. (a principal supplier of cabs for Caterpillar Belgium) and Doosan S.A..
According to the Belgian authorities, the events giving rise to the redundancies are the declining public and private investments in infrastructure in the EU and the significant increase in steel prices in Europe, causing serious disruptions in trade and loss of competitiveness of European construction machinery plants.
Belgium also included 300 young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs) in the plans. The measures, co-financed by the EGF and the Belgian government, would help the workers and NEETs to find new jobs by providing them with occupational guidance, vocational training, entrepreneurship counselling services, contributions to business start-ups and a variety of allowances.
The impact of these redundancies on the local and regional economy and employment is expected to be significant. According to the European Commission, the whole manufacturing sector has been downscaling production in Wallonia, with 1,236 job losses in 2013 and 1,878 job losses in 2014. Hainaut has been facing a difficult labour market situation with an employment rate lower than the national average.
The draft resolution, by rapporteur Victor Negrescu (S&D, RO) was approved by 24 votes to 3, no abstentions. The plenary vote is scheduled for 23 June, and the Council is set to approve the aid request on 20 June.
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.