Blog AnalysisSocial Policy

In Florange, there is a storm. In Liège, we negotiate

(credit: EU Council)
(credit: EU Council)

(BRUSSELS2) While the situation in Florange was turning into a showdown between Montebourg and Mittal, through the media, in Belgium, we were negotiating. On the other side of the border, the situation is the same. The Indian industrialist decided, in fact, in October 2011, to close some of its facilities which it considers surplus, such as the hot phase in Liège. But, very quickly, the government understood that the closure was not negotiable.

The Walloon region (1) led by Socialists, like the unions, had tried a little tour of the track during the summer by presenting an alternative to buying one of the stoves. This idea very quickly fizzled... Mittal made it clear that he was not ready to sell. For a good reason: he doesn't really want to create a competitor where he is in a strong position. He first set the bar very high, speaking of at least 1 billion euros without counting the costs of depollution, as reported by La Libre Belgique. Out of reach for regions. Then he threatened not to buy the cast iron coming out of this blast furnace and even to order his subcontractors to do the same! And finally he put in the balance the investment of 138 million euros that he wanted to make in the cold. Message received on the Belgian side who quickly took up their idea of ​​​​repurchase.

A month later, Arnaud Montebourg left with a gun against Mittal. A battle that lasted even less time than in the flat country, which took a turn ahead … Friday, when Matignon was whistling the end of recess, in Belgium, the unions and the industrialist were putting the finishing touches to a memorandum of understanding to redeploy the almost 800 employees concerned. With the key: early retirement, voluntary departures against compensation and retraining for others towards the rehabilitation and depollution of abandoned sites. While all the "cold lines" will only be kept if the public authorities put their hands in their pockets.

Does this remind you of something ?

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(1) In Belgium the economy depends on the regions

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).