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Brussels, 23 rd November 2009
Informal meeting with EU ministers on the situation of GM on 23 November 2009 reconfirms need for European coordination
Vice-President Günter Verheugen, Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes and the Commissioner in charge of Employment, Vladimir Špidla have met today with ministers in charge of the automotive industry and with a representative of GM. The first part was dedicated to GM and an exchange of information with the representative of GM (Nick Reilly, President International). In a second part the EU participants continued the discussion. All participants welcomed the initiative taken by the Commission.
Following the recent decision of the Board of General Motors (GM) to retain the subsidiaries in Europe and to initiate the restructuring of the operations, the Commission convened another meeting of EU ministers with a view to facilitate an efficient process, to ensure transparency and shared information between Member States and recall the relevant EU rules.
The representative of GM has given a presentation of the current state of affairs in the restructuring process and answered questions of the participants on the way ahead, which resulted in some important clarifications about the planned restructuring. All participants stressed the urgency of GM presenting a viable restructuring plan, in a transparent manner, and appreciated the attention GM is paying to its employees in the EU.
They stressed the European dimension of the problem and the common interest to ensure long-term viability for the European subsidiaries of GM and sustainable jobs for the employees, while insisting on the primary responsibility of GM itself. The Commission recalled the applicable rules to any State Aid decisions involved.
The meeting reconfirmed the consensus 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. The Commission representatives emphasised that the Commission will continue to apply the same standards of assessment with regard to the financing of a possible GM's restructuring plan as it did in the past.
In this context it was agreed that any financial support by one or more Member States should 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. This is essential to avoid subsidy races between Member States and the fragmentation of the Single Market
Moreover state support should facilitate the efforts of manufacturers to adapt production capacities to market developments. This restructuring in the automotive industry must take place in rigorous compliance with the European and national rules in force regarding information and consultation of workers in the case of any restructuring operation in the EU.
All participants appreciated the renewed initiative of the Commission. It was agreed to continue the political discussion in the context of the Competitiveness Council. The participants agreed that Member States will make no formal commitment before the next coordination meeting based on GM's restructuring plan.