February 21, 2018 / 11:33 AM / 4 months ago

EU says more details needed over Italy claim of Slovak state aid abuse

BRUSSELS, Feb 21 (Reuters) - The European Commission will look into Italian allegations that Slovakia provided illegal state aid to encourage a white goods maker to relocate, but needed further information before judging the situation, the EU’s competition chief said on Wednesday.

Embraco, a Brazil-based firm controlled by U.S. domestic appliance maker Whirlpool, has announced it will close a factory in northern Italy and relocate to Slovakia, a matter which has become a hot issue ahead of Italian elections on March 4.

Italian Industry Minister Carlo Calenda flew to Brussels on Tuesday to lobby EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, saying the enticements Slovakia had offered Embraco amounted to illegal state aid.

Vestager told a news conference on Wednesday that state aid could not be used to shift jobs from one country to another but it was too early to say if the Embraco case involved a misuse of funds.

“Before we know the exact details of the issue, the facts on the ground, we make no judgement whatsoever,” Vestager told a news conference in Brussels.

“We are of course willing to make sure that our rules are upheld, that you do not move jobs but you create jobs,” she added. (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

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