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08/12/2016

€1 million EU aid package for redundant French abattoir workers

Agriculture & Food

€1 million EU aid package for redundant French abattoir workers

The decline of the French pork industry has led to thousands of redundancies. [United Soybean Board/Flickr]

The European Parliament has adopted a motion to provide one million euros in EU aid to the ex-employees of Brittany’s GAD Abattoirs. The crisis in the French pork industry and the misuse of foreign workers are blamed for the company’s difficulties. EurActiv France reports.

The redundant employees of GAD Abattoirs in France, victims of the French pork industry’s decline, may soon receive a large aid package from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF).

The European Commission proposed a package worth one million euro in October, following a request from France, to pay for expert “advice and guidance” for the 760 workers, made redundant by the Breton abattoirs.

The Commission’s proposal was adopted by the European Parliament Committee on Budgets on 20 November, and will be put to the vote in next week’s plenary session, on 25 November.

French pork in a predicament

“The French pork industry, particularly in Brittany, has been hit by the full force of the economic crisis, which has caused the price of animal feed to rise, while the demand for meat has fallen,” said the former European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor.

On top of the problems caused by the global crisis, the French pork industry received another blow when Moscow placed an embargo on European pork products in January 2014, after an epidemic of African swine fever swept through the East of the EU. Around 10% of French production had previously been destined for the Russian market.

 >> Read: Moscow pork embargo causes havoc in Brussels

The report adopted by the European Parliament Committee on Budgets points to “unfair competition within the internal market from competitors making an abusive use of the Posting of Workers Directive” as another reason for the company’s difficulties. This is a thinly veiled attack on the competition in Germany, which has undercut the French market by exploiting cheap foreign labour and the lack of a minimum wage.

Consequences of globalisation

The Adjustment Fund can be used, on the request of a member state, to help businesses suffering from the effects of globalisation. Since its establishment in 2007, the Fund has received 130 aid requests, and has released €536 million to help over 116,000 European workers.

In spite of strong demand, the Fund’s budget for the period 2014-2020 was cut from 500 million to 150 million euros.

A group of ten member states, including the United Kingdom and Germany, campaigned for the abolition of the Globalisation Adjustment Fund in 2012, before reaching a compromise to drastically cut the fund’s budget.

>> Read: EU globalisation fund in peril as countries seek budget cuts

Repeated interventions in France

This is not the first time the Fund has been used to help workers in France. Earlier this month, the Commission proposed to release €25.9 million in aid for the 3,886 employees of Air France who lost their jobs due to the general decline in air passenger numbers between 2008 and 2013.

In 2012, 2,089 employees of PSA Peugeot Citroën, fired in 2009 and 2010 in response to the precipitous decline in demand for new cars, received a package worth 11.9 million euros. 

Background

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) has an annual budget of up to 150 million euro for the period 2014-2020. The Fund was set up to help people who have lost their jobs following major changes resulting from the globalisation of international trade, or the global economic and financial crisis.

The one condition for a pay-out is that at least 500 employees or freelance workers must have lost their jobs. The EGF can provide up to 60% of the funding needed to help these people get back into work or launch their own business. 

Timeline

  • 24-27 November: European Parliament plenary session - Strasbourg
  • 25 November: vote on aid to GED Abattoirs - Brussels

Further Reading