Eight Countries Oppose Extended EU Relief
December 2, 2011 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
BRUSSELS, Dec. 2 (UPI) — A group of countries, led by Germany, said they are against the European Union extending an emergency aid program for laid-off workers.
In 2009, the EU reduced the eligibility threshold for laid-off worker aid from 1,000 to 500 redundancies and extended the period of funding for laid-off worker relief from 12 to 24 months, EUobserver reported. The EU also increased its contribution to training laid-off workers from 50 to 65 percent.
More than $471,695,000 has been paid out to countries in need from this fund.
“The majority of states would support the continuation of the derogation, but a blocking minority is against it. I have to say it is a major disappointment,” EU employment commissioner Laszlo Andor said Thursday after a meeting of all 27 EU labor ministers in Brussels, Belgium.
Andor listed Germany, Slovakia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Latvia, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Denmark as countries opposing the extension, adding they all benefited from the program and would continue to do so “especially at times of fiscal consolidation.”
“Even if there is an agreement among EU leaders next week, the crisis will unfortunately not end on 31 December,” Andor noted.
Countries new to the European Union expressed disappointment the eligibility for funding may be changing, the report said.
“It is a little strange that countries which benefited a lot from this fund, such as Germany and the Netherlands, are opposing now the continuation of this instrument. For us EU newcomers, we made a request only this year, as we met the conditions only now,” Romanian Labor Minister Sulfina Barbu told journalists Thursday.
Romania is still hoping to bring $6.7 million to $8.086 million for the 3,300 laid-off workers in the city of Cluj where Swedish cellphone-maker Nokia recent closed a plant and moved it to China.