The EU Globalisation Fund application on behalf of hundreds of former Waterford Crystal workers was sanctioned yesterday, with the Commission accepting that the factory’s closure in January 2009 is causing an annual fall in personal consumption in Waterford city and its surroundings of “at least €40 million”, not to mention knock-on employment impacts.

Fine Gael South MEP Seán Kelly stayed behind in Brussels last evening to meet with Commission officials to discuss various outstanding issues regarding the flexibility of the €2,570,853 in grant assistance being provided. An Exchequer top-up will bring the overall aid package to €3,955,159.

The funds are only available for a two-year period from the Irish Government’s application, lodged in Crystal’s case last August. It related to 653 redundancies in total, of which 627 were in Waterford Crystal and 26 among three of its suppliers.

The Commission says the 598 most-disadvantaged will receive support in the form of occupational guidance, help for business start-up, and various training courses, including 3rd level degrees, with the relevant allowances and grants.

The application will come before the European Parliament and EU Council next month for formal ratification and should be rubberstamped quickly.

László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion said: “The crisis has hit Waterford particularly badly… The globalisation fund will help cushion this dramatic change by helping workers better prepare for and find new opportunities.”

See The Munster Express newspaper for full story.