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Brussels, 17 July 2014
Statement by Commissioner Andor on Microsoft's announcement of large-scale job cuts
László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, learned about Microsoft's plans for corporate restructuring and dismissal of several thousands of workers worldwide, including in several EU Member States (primarily in Hungary and Finland), during an informal joint meeting of EU Labour and Environment Ministers in Milan discussing the transition towards a greener economy. He commented: "I deeply regret the significant job losses announced by Microsoft today because of the impact these will have on so many individuals, their families and the local communities they live and work in. All sectors of the economy are undergoing changes as technology develops and consumer demand evolves. Company restructuring is a fact of life but it should be done in a socially responsible way, based on social dialogue and with due respect for applicable legislation on the information and consultation of workers and on collective redundancies."
Commissioner Andor added: "The fact that parts of one large software company are going to downsize should not be a reason to stop investing in digital skills and supporting digital job creation in Europe, quite the contrary. Digital skills are needed to support the transition towards new services, like cloud and data, as well as the transition towards a more resource and energy efficient economy. The digital economy is moving so fast that even technology companies have to make significant adjustments. Therefore companies, governments and social partners need to get better at anticipating skills needs, and invest in people of all ages to improve their digital competences. Workers affected by today's announcement should receive support to re-train if needed and help to find a new job as soon as possible. I take note of Microsoft's commitment to work with workers' representatives and the governments concerned in order to support re-employment of the affected workers in other parts of the company or elsewhere. Relevant national and regional authorities can also access EU support for re-training and re-employment through the European Social Fund or the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, if the applicable conditions are fulfilled."
Commissioner Andor concluded: "I have asked to meet with Microsoft representatives as soon as possible in order to get more information on the planned redundancies and the measures to alleviate the social consequences, as well as to explore how to mobilise EU funding in support of the workers concerned".
In December 2013, the European Commission has adopted a Quality Framework for anticipation of Change and Restructuring (IP/13/1246) providing guidance to companies, workers, trade unions and other stakeholders in order to minimise the social impact of company restructuring and to facilitate such processes via better anticipation and investment in human capital.
The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund provides support to people losing their jobs as a result of major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation, e.g. when a large company shuts down or production is moved outside the EU, or as a result of the global economic and financial crisis.
The EGF has a maximum annual budget of EUR 150 million for the period 2014-2020. It can fund up to 60% of the cost of projects designed to help workers made redundant find another job or set up their own business. As a general rule, the EGF can be used only where over 500 workers are made redundant by a single company (including its suppliers and downstream producers), or if a large number of workers are laid off in a particular sector in one or more neighbouring regions. EGF cases are managed and implemented by national or regional authorities.
The European Social Fund (amounting to over €80 billion for 2014-20) is the EU's main tool for investing in people. It co-finances projects improving employment, social inclusion, education and the functioning of public administration, in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy. ESF support is planned through 7-year operational programmes agreed between the European Commission and relevant national or regional authorities. On this basis, decisions on individual investments to be co-financed from the ESF fall under the responsibility of national or regional authorities.