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September 30, 2009

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Home » Business » Auto

Antitrust chief seeks Opel aid proposals

THE European Union antitrust chief yesterday urged EU countries with Opel plants to present details of their proposed state aid for the car maker to the European Commission as soon as possible.

In a bid to protect jobs in Germany, Berlin has promised 4.5 billion euros (US$6.6 billion) in aid to car maker Opel, which is due to be sold to Canadian auto parts group Magna, drawing criticism from other EU countries.

Britain and Spain, concerned that this could spell more job losses for their Opel facilities, have written letters to the EU executive questioning the German aid.

"We are asking the question, we are waiting for facts and figures to come to our final approach, the time frame the sooner the better. We are running out of time," European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes told the European Parliament.

She said she would not accept a short-term solution and that the Commission would take only commercial considerations into account when deciding whether to approve the proposed state aid.

Earlier in her speech to the European Parliament, Kroes said EU governments should not use massive bailouts of crisis-hit banks as a pretext to rescue other sectors which do not pose a systemic risk.

Since the credit crisis deepened a year ago, EU countries have committed trillions of euros to help banks weather the global crisis, sparking other sectors like the car sector to also ask for state aid.

Kroes said there was a clear distinction between financial institutions and other industries.


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