EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: “I am happy to approve aid which will make a genuine contribution to the skills and competitiveness of European workers in the heavy vehicles industry."
Scania AB is the parent company of the Scania group, which is a leading manufacturer of heavy trucks and buses. The group employs around 13,000 people in Sweden. Scania has developed a comprehensive staff training programme for its workforce in Södertalje, Oskarshamm and Luleå. In addition, workers of Scania's suppliers and of other SMEs active in the heavy vehicle sector may take part in the training programme. The objective of the training (that will spread over 9 months) is to increase the workers' general knowledge, to improve the skills of blue-collar workers and increase their problem-solving abilities.
Sweden together with the European Social Fund intends to subsidise the training programme by a €11 million (SEK 123.5 million) grant. As required under EU state aid rules, Sweden informed the Commission in February 2009 about the planned subsidies to Scania.
The Commission supports training activities, because they benefit the European economy by broadening the pool of skilled workers. However, it is necessary that such aid actually motivates companies to carry out additional training activities and is not simply used to subsidise the cost of training the company would in any case have to undertake.
The Commission's investigation confirmed that the aid will provide a genuine incentive for training that goes beyond what Scania would have provided without the aid. Training hours will be significantly increased in 2009 and the training will by far exceed the requirements necessary for the good functioning of Scania's production.
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number N 98/2009 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.