Brussels, 9 September 2009
2,168 Belgian textile workers to get help from EU Globalisation Fund
The European Commission has today approved two applications from Belgium for assistance under the European Globalisation adjustment Fund (EGF) – the first to benefit under revised EGF rules. The funding will help 2,168 workers in the textiles sector back into employment. The applications – for a total of almost €9.2 million – concern workers made redundant in mainly small businesses in three Belgian provinces: Limburg, East Flanders and West Flanders. The Commission will now make a proposal to the European Parliament and the Council to mobilise the budgetary resources.
" 87% of jobs in the Belgian textile sector are located in East and West Flanders and Limburg and the employment situation seems particularly vulnerable in the textile sector," said European Employment Commissioner Vladimír Špidla. "It is good news that the Belgian authorities have chosen to apply for EGF support. I am confident that this funding will help to get these workers back onto the labour market soon."
For their approval by the Commission , the two Belgian applications were grouped together as both relate to the textiles industry. The application for Limburg concerns 631 dismissals in seven different textile companies; the application for East and West Flanders concerns 1,568 redundancies in 39 enterprises.
The redundancies follow radical changes in worldwide textile production. Large scale restructuring in the European textiles and clothing industry began in the 1990s. This situation was further exacerbated by high import duties on textiles from the EU in countries such as Brazil and India and by the liberalisation of import quotas for Chinese textiles and other third countries such as Turkey. More recently, the collapse of the real estate market in the United Kingdom since November 2007 and the resulting drop in UK imports of textiles, such as carpets, upholstery and furnishing fabrics had a severe negative impact on the Belgian textiles industry. The recent economic and financial crisis added further to the downturn.
T he package of EGF assistance for the textile workers of Limburg, East and West Flanders will include competence screening, interview skills training, individual job search support and career assistance, training and outplacement. The total estimated cost of this package is over €14 million, of which the European Globalisation adjustment Fund has been asked to fund €9.2 million.
There have been 26 applications to the EGF so far, for a total amount of over € 143 million, helping about 32,200 workers. The East and West Flanders and Limburg applications are the ninth and tenth concerning textiles industry approved by the Commission for presentation to the European Parliament and the Council. Other applications relate to the automotive sector, mobile phones, computers, electrical equipment, ceramic products, crystal glass, domestic appliances and construction.
The EGF was established by the European Parliament and the Council at the end of 2006 to provide help for people who have lost their jobs due to the impact of globalisation. In June 2009, the EGF rules were revised to strengthen the role of the EGF as an early intervention instrument. It forms part of Europe's response to the financial and economic crisis. The revised EGF Regulation entered into force the second of July and applies to all applications received from 1 May 2009 onwards. East and West Flanders and Limburg are the first applications benefitting from the revised regulation.
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