The 559 employees of logistics company TNT Belgium at Liège Airport who lost their jobs after the company transferred its operations to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport will receive €1.9 million in EU aid.
On Tuesday, MEPs approved Belgium’s request for support from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Displaced Workers (EGF), which supports displaced workers and self-employed people who have lost their jobs.
"The Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine have reduced economic competitiveness and have a negative impact on economic growth in Belgium," MEPs acknowledged.
TNT Express Worldwide (Euro Hub) SRL, the Belgian subsidiary of FedEx, decided to make Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport its primary operations hub, downsizing the airport in Liège to a secondary hub. As a result, the company reduced the number of staff at Liège Airport in 2022.
This decision was intended "to avoid a duplication of activities and strengthen the position of the group in a context of fierce competition in the sector at European and national level," MEPs said. The redundancies concern the region of Wallonia in Belgium and the province of Liège in particular. Wallonia's unemployment rate is 8.7%, already higher than the average level of 5.9%.
Additionally, MEPs pointed out that a large proportion of the former workforce of TNT Belgium comes from disadvantaged groups, with 60% of the displaced workers having held low-qualified jobs and almost half of them (47%) being over 50 years old.
The funding will help them find new jobs through tailored guidance and advice, training, and support to start their own business. The total estimated cost of these measures is about €2.3 million, of which the EGF will cover 85% (€1.9 million). The Walloon Region in Belgium will finance the remaining 15% (€400,000).
- Liège Airport CEO keeps residency in Luxembourg and reaps tax benefits
- Liège Airport staff protest in front of Walloon government offices
Overall, since 2007, the EGF has made available €688 million in 175 cases, offering help to more than 167,000 people in 20 Member States. EGF-supported measures add to national active labour market measures.
The report by rapporteur Olivier Chastel recommending that Parliament approve the aid, was passed by 592 votes, 25 against and three abstentions.