Geert Bourgeois, a representative of Flemish nationalist party N-VA in the European Parliament, claims in Flemish newspaper De Standaard (25.01.2020, paywall) that for every billion euros of exports, we create 14.000 new jobs in Europe. This statement comes in response to the trade agreement concluded with Vietnam in 2019. These figures turn out to be mostly true.
The trade agreement between Europe and Vietnam concerns an agreement on import and export tariffs between Vietnam and Europe. The goal is to eliminate 99% of these tariffs within seven years. Vietnamese exports to Europe will increase by fifteen billion euros per year by 2035. This contrasts with annual growth in European exports to Vietnam of around 8.3 billion euros. Adding these two together, 14.000 new, well-paid jobs will be created per billion euros of exports.
Where the figure 14.000 exactly comes from was at first a mystery to us. However, In a dossier of the European Commission, there is a summary of the achievements concerning jobs and exports between Europe and the rest of the world. In 2011 every billion euros of exports effectively created 14.000 new jobs, thus the European Commission.
The first step towards answers had been taken. The number 14.000 has, in fact, an origin. Since the document is from 2011, it’s pretty dated so we went looking for other sources. In a file from 2017 of the FEB (Federation of Enterprises in Belgium), which is the largest employers’ organization in Belgium lobbying for a healthy economy, we found the same statement. They probably use the numbers of the European Commission, but we were unable to contact the FEB.
Two ‘confirmations’ about the numbers. So the chance that they are complete nonsense is almost zero. But still we encounter doubts. Because why exactly 14.000 and not 140.000 or 8.000 new jobs. To find out we contacted the cabinet of Geert Bourgeois. It emerged from that contact that Bourgeois based his statement on an earlier one made by the former President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. That, once again leads us to the same number: one billion euros in exports creates 14,000 new jobs in the EU.
But where did Juncker base his statement on? In other words, again, where did the 14.000 come from? The Bourgeois cabinet provided us with a link to the details of those figures. However, a really conclusive answer is not given here on where those 14.000 jobs come from. But it’s the closest we can get to conclusive truth.
We can conclude that the claim is ‘Mostly true’. There are many different articles that quoted the figures based on the article by the European Commission. The claim was correct in 2011 but over the last few years, that figure will probably have changed. This allows us to conclude that the claim is mostly true because in the end we only have one source and several years have passed since the article by the European Commission was published.
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