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Brussels, 29 th May 2009
Second Informal meeting with EU ministers on the situation of GM on 29 May 2009 reconfirms need for coordination
The Vice-President of the European Commission Günter Verheugen and Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes have met today for a second time with ministers in charge of the automotive industry. Eighteen EU Member States were represented, eleven of which (AT, BE, CZ, DE, ES, HU, IT, PL, PT, SE, UK) at political level.
This second meeting reconfirmed the consensus reached at the first ministerial meeting on the situation of General Motors’ European subsidiaries on 13 th March, where Member States and the Commission had concluded that EU rules (in particular on state aid and the Single Market) must be fully respected and that no national measures should be taken without prior information and coordination with other involved countries and the Commission.
All participants appreciated the renewed initiative of the Commission and the personal backing of President Barroso. They stressed the European dimension of the problem and the common interest to find a viable solution for the European subsidiaries of GM while insisting on the primary responsibility of GM itself. There was appreciation that Germany takes a leading role in this respect in the first stage of the rescue process.
The Commission representatives highlighted that EU state aid rules may allow, under certain conditions, Member States to rapidly support General Motors’ European subsidiaries in their efforts to overcome their immediate financial difficulties. They underlined that state support should ultimately ensure the long-term viability of the restructured entity without further injections of public money or unduly distorting competition. All participants agreed that any financial support by one or more Member States must be based strictly on objective and economic criteria, and not include non-commercial conditions concerning the location of investments and/or the geographic distribution of restructuring measures. Moreover state support should facilitate the efforts of manufacturers to adapt production capacities to market developments.
The participants stressed the transatlantic dimension and called upon the US to fully support the ongoing efforts in the EU to reach a viable solution for the European subsidiaries which will also benefit GM world wide.
The participants reconfirmed the need for a continuous and comprehensive flow of information amongst all parties concerned and for close involvement of the Commission. They decided to create a supportive working structure to ensure information and coordination on both industrial and competition issues. The Commission representatives promised swift assessment and advice to assist Member States to ensure all their measures are fully compatible with State aid and Single Market rules.