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“These are difficult times for the automobile industry,” said Flemish minister-president Kris Peeters CDV during his address to the twenty European Industry Ministers who were called to an informal meeting by EU commissioner for Industry Antonio Tajani after the recent spate of restructuring in the sector. “In Flanders we have also been hit hard by the crisis. The Ford closure will see the loss of 10 000 to 15.800 jobs.” These layoffs have spurred on the Flemish government to ask the EU for concrete initiatives to support the industry in Belgium. The Walloon government, represented by Walloon deputy minister-president Jean-Claude Marcourt PS, backs Flanders. “The regions that have been hit by a factory closure should be supported by the EU in their search for solutions,” Peeters suggested. “The EU should help those regions that are dependent on the automobile industry to find new activities. At the same time these regions with car industry should become more specialised to avoid competition among themselves.” Peeters further suggested that the auto industry should also take on some of the responsibility, saying: “We must invite the industry to come up with their own survival plan.” In return the EU and its member states will have to invest in proposed innovations. Peeters concluded by stressing that no matter how, the chosen restructuring strategy would have to be in line with the region’s industrial policy. He is confident that Europe has sufficient resources to support industry, saying: “Europe has many instruments; considerable resources. I think for example of the European investment bank. These instruments should be implemented to come up with a solution for Ford Genk or Duferco the Walloon steel company from La Louvière which has anounced hundreds of layoffs,” he said during an interview on the VRT television programme ’De zevende dag’.
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