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EU will examine Opel plan before aid is offered

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EU will examine Opel plan before aid is offered

DECEMBER 5, 2009 13:25 CET

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -- European regulators will examine any restructuring plan presented by General Motors Co. for its European arm Opel before EU states decide whether to offer financial support.

"The (European) Commission will look at the restructuring plan of GM Opel. Only after the results of this examination can member states say whether they will provide support," Kris Peeters, premier of Belgium's Flanders region, said.

Peeters spoke after EU ministers met in Brussels on Friday to discuss state aid for Opel's restructuring.

GM is seeking financial help from European countries with Opel factories including Germany, Britain, Spain and Belgium -- to help finance its 3.3 billion euro plan to make Opel profitable by 2012.

GM plans to cut European capacity by 20 percent and eliminate 8,400 jobs.

EU's competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said any financial aid offered by EU member states to Opel must respect EU internal market rules and ensure the carmaker's long-term viability.

"State aid must fully comply with internal market rules. Also the restructuring of Opel must be based on solid industrial considerations allowing it to restore the long-term viability of the company," Kroes said on Friday.

Germany's economy minister Rainer Bruederle said European countries hosting Opel plants don't want to decide whether to grant the carmaker aid before the European Commission has assessed GM's overhaul plan for the unit.

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