559 employees of TNT Belgium at Liège Airport who lost their jobs following a transfer of operations to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport should receive €1.9 million in EU aid, according to a press release issued by the European Parliament.
On Thursday, the Committee on Budgets approved Belgium’s request for support from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Displaced Workers (EGF). MEPs acknowledged that “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”.
TNT Express Worldwide (Euro Hub) SRL, the Belgian subsidiary of FedEx, decided to make Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport the primary hub for its operations. The airport in Liège was downsized to a secondary hub. As a result, the company reduced the number of staff at Liège airport in 2022. The decision was intended “to strengthen the group’s position within its highly competitive sector at European and national level”, MEPs said.
Workers from disadvantaged groups
The redundancies concern the region of Wallonia in Belgium and the province of Liège in particular. Wallonia’s unemployment rate is 8.7%, which is higher than an average of 5.9% at the national level. MEPs point out that a large proportion of the former workforce of TNT Belgium come from disadvantaged groups, with 60% of the displaced workers having held low-qualified jobs and almost half of them (47%) 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).
The draft report by rapporteur Olivier Chastel (RENEW, BE) recommending that Parliament approve the aid was passed by 32 votes, none against and no abstentions. Approval by plenary is expected during the 13-16 March plenary session in Strasbourg.