Brussels, 12th May 2009
Following recent developments concerning possible national support measures for the restructuring of GM Europe (including Opel/Vauxhall), Vice-President Verheugen and Commissioners Kroes and Špidla welcome the efforts undertaken, but repeat the need for co-ordinated action and full respect of EC Treaty rules.
The Commissioners for Enterprise and Industry, Competition, Employment and Social Affairs stress the importance of a coherent and coordinated political approach towards the European automotive industry, bearing in mind its primary entrepreneurial responsibility in a social market economy. The Commissioners recall that all participating Member States in the informal meeting with EU ministers on the situation of GM on 13 March 2009 (MEMO/09/108) agreed to ensure that no national measures should be taken without prior information and coordination with the Commission and other involved countries. In this context, Vice-President Verheugen and Commissioners Kroes and Špidla underline that national support measures have to fully comply with EC Treaty state aid and internal market rules.
In particular, with regard to declarations by various European ministers concerning the conditions to be attached to possible national support measures for GM Europe and its potential partners, the three Commissioners recall that new state aid measures must be notified to the European Commission before their implementation and cannot be subject to additional conditions contrary to internal market rules. For instance, state aid aiming to facilitate access to finance in the current crisis and fulfilling the requirements of the relevant temporary framework cannot be subject to additional non-commercial conditions concerning the location of investments and/or the geographic distribution of restructuring measures. While the EU should aim at keeping as many people as possible in jobs, national aid measures within this framework must not affect the freedom of manufacturers to develop their activities in the internal market, and in particular should not prevent manufacturers from adapting their production capacities to market developments, in conformity with the applicable labour law.
The Commissioners also underline that the implementation of necessary structural reforms is very important to strengthen the automotive industry's competitiveness and to create the right conditions for sustainable jobs.