Extracts from the joint press conference by Günter Verheugen and Neelie Kroes on the situation in the European Car Industry
Type: Summary of press conference
End production: 25/02/2009 First transmission: 25/02/2009
At a press conference on 25/02/2009 in Brussels, Günter Verheugen, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Enterprise and Industry, and Neelie Kroes, Member of the EC in charge of Competition, presented a European Commission's communication to support the European car industry in their efforts to withstand the crisis, soften negative effects and ensure long-term competitiveness.
Building on the European Economic Recovery Plan of 2008, it sets various measures to improve access to credit, to clarify the rules for granting state aid in the particular circumstances, to boost the demand for new vehicles through coordinated national actions, to minimise social costs and retain the skilled workforce and to defend fair competition in open markets.
State aid schemes for ailing domestic car industries have been developed in France, Spain, UK, Sweden and Italy, sparking questions from the European Commission over protectionism and illegal state aid. The German government is now also considering a bailout of its car maker Opel.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||General view of the press room
||Günter Verheugen, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Enterprise and Industry, saying (in GERMAN) that as the European Commission stand firmly on the side of those who are fighting to save jobs in the European car industry. They wish to ensure that they can guarantee the survival of all European manufacturers in this time of crisis. They believe that this is possible but it will only prove possible if they think and act in European terms.
||Cutaway of press
||Günter Verheugen saying (in GERMAN) that this is a truly European industry because there is no company which produces solely in one country. All have their supplier chains and distribution chains throughout Europe in a good number of Member States. This is why purely national measures which would help one manufacturer would inevitably have negative repercussions on others. This is a politically explosive issue because each and every Member State is affected, both large and small, both wealthy and less wealthy Member States. He thinks that they are all clear that, what this means is not only those who can afford it, who would take measures and impact negatively on the situation of those, who have less resources to enable them to do so. It is also economically explosive because the car industry is key to the survival of industries in other sectors.
||Neelie Kroes, Member of the EC in charge of Competition, asking (in ENGLISH) that what is her role in the whole process? It is just to ensure that the support plans comply in full with their state aid rules. We are aware why they do have that line and are consistent in their behaviour. These rules, and we are aware of them, are designed to allow well targeted aid which do not unduly distort competition within the internal market. So rightly said, it is indeed one of theses instruments that they can take into account to give a helping hand to come out of this situation into a better future.
||Günter Verheugen saying (in GERMAN) that he thinks in the case of Opel, that it has been made clear, that aid will only be permissible if they will guarantee the long-term survival of the company. Because the problem of Opel and of the other GM subsidiaries in Europe, are not solely due to the current crisis. They are rather the result of a long-term failure on the part of the management in Detroit, in the USA. And it is quite clear that the European tax-payers should not have to pay for these failings.
||Cutaways (2 shots)