EU fund for workers highlights independence bonus

Alyn Smith, Scottish member of the European Parliament, has highlighted the passage by the European Parliament of a revised fund to support workers made redundant by the economic crisis as a "classic example" of the future advantages to Scotland as an independent Member State of the EU.

The European Globalisation Fund (EGF), passed by 543 votes to 126, will provide over a billion Euros of funding over the next seven years specifically to assist workers and the self-employed who have lost their employment due either to the financial crisis or due to shifts in trade patterns caused by globalisation.

A number of Scotland's neighbours benefitted significantly from the previous EGF, such as Ireland, whose applicants garnered around 60m EUR to support almost 10,000 workers in sectors ranging from construction to crystal glass (for example 15m EUR was granted to help almost 3000 workers to find new jobs in the computer industry), and Denmark, with 50m EUR helping 5000 workers. In contrast, the United Kingdom has made no applications over seven years and thus Scottish workers have received nothing.

Alyn said:

"This is yet another example of how the UK does not achieve maximum value for Scots in the EU. Due to an obsession with maximising the rebate, which sits in a Treasury bank account and does not help Scots, the UK Government has made no attempt to engage with this important fund.

"In these tough economic times, our workers and self-employed need all the help they can get, not just to subsist while out of work, but to actively prepare them for new jobs. This fund does that, and our small northern European neighbours have recognised its value, and benefitted commensurately. That's the value of constructive engagement in Europe which independence will provide.

"We can't wait any longer for an inactive and unconstructive government to represent our interests."

Financing will be available to back personalised services, coordinated with national and local efforts, to assist active measures to help people back into work, such as training, ICT skills, job search advice, aid for self employment and employee takeovers.  Member States will also have the opportunity to support those not in education, employment or training under 25 years of age. EU financing of such measures can be as high as 60% of total costs.

Independent analysis by consultants GHK (on the EGF during 2007-2011) concluded that short term re-employment rates were 42%, and rising in the medium term in spite of the impact of the economic crisis which tended to lower employment rates generally, and managed to reach the harder-to-help job seekers, such as older workers.