European Fund for Transition: new name, stronger solidarity, wider help to workers damaged by globalisation, digitisation and automation

Brussels, 19 January – The first reading in Strasbourg rebranded the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: now ‘Transition’ is the key word narrowing the focus on workers, their transition after losing job and finding a new one or opening a new company.

The European Fund for Transition (EFT) places EU public funds in areas where people are losing their jobs due to globalisation economy: multinationals moving manufacturing in Asia where work is cheaper, or automation and digitisation replacing many sectors and phases production chains.

Since the global financial crisis in 2008 six million jobs have been lost and more recently hundreds of thousands due to post crisis low investments, drop in sales/consumes, progressive automation leaving less skilled fighting for their survival.

The access to the European Fund for Transition (EFT) has now been broadened as MEPs lowered the minimum number of job lost in order for EU27 countries national or regional governments to apply for financial support for local dismissed workers in case of mass redundancies: EFT application could be submitted when a minimum of 200 jobs (250 proposed by the European Commission) are lost within a longer periods of 6 to 9 months. (The previous Globalisation Adjustment Fund set the threshold at 500 workers laid off from one company or a single sector in one region).

From 2007 nearly 70,000 workers benefited from this fund of 170mln euros available each year.

The fund not only cover permanent workers, but also temporary ones and suppliers. Over 2021-2027, the Fund would be worth €1.6 billion.

The Employment Committee MEPs gave their full support to Commission’s proposal for change, but amended the text to make the EFT more accessible and future focused. With a forward looking long term support and investment in EU workforce skills, the tool provides better employment opportunities addressing the shortage of skills linked to digitisation and automation.

Financial contributions from the EFT will complement measures taken by the member states. This EU fund covers 60% of financial support, each country will cover the remaining 40%.

These measures should primarily address active labour market and personalised support to workers in order to reintegrate them into employment, promoting self-employment or help with the creation of new businesses. Additionally MEPs proposed special time-limited measures, such as childcare allowance or recruitment incentives, including flexible work in order to ease retaining or reintegrating workers into the labour market.

The fund, created in 2006 and adjusted in 2008 after the global financial crisis, is intended to remain an emergency and solidarity tool to address the negative consequences and heavy social impact of globalisation and technological transitions as well as the transition towards what the MEPs define, using terms functional to global multinationals, as a ‘resource-efficient economy’.