The Whirlpool case, Italian rage, the EU embarrassment

European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager promises severity. Meanwhile, he studies the papers
The Whirlpool case, Italian rage, the EU embarrassment
23 February 09:35 2018 Print This Article

Jobs must be created rather than moved, European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said on the Embraco case Wednesday. As Italy Premier Paolo Gentiloni said no to “fiscal dumping” and Industry Minister Carlo Calenda said scouting for new investors was going ahead, Vestager said the case would become a concern for the European Commission if taxpayers’ money was used.

Brazilian fridge compressor maker Embraco, a unit of US multinational Whirlpool, is moving 500 jobs to Slovakia where labour costs are lower and Italy has said State aid may be involved.

“We’re here to make sure the rules are respected and make sure that jobs aren’t moved but created,” Vestager told a press conference about her meeting with Calenda. “Everyone may have a reason to move, that’s not our business, but it becomes a concern for us if taxpayers’ money is involved”, she said.

“Funds should be used to create new jobs and not to move jobs from one country to another,” she said. Vestager recalled that in 2014 and 2017 the Commission had “reinforced” the rules on State aid to industry. This was precisely because, she said “(EU) funds must be used to create jobs and not move jobs from one country to another. Therefore it is an issue close to our hearts, as shown by the fact that we made stiffer rules”.

Vestager earlier said Embraco’s offshoring 500 Italian jobs to Slovakia is a serious issue and the EC will assess it to see if State aid rules have been breached. “The Embraco case is a serious thing and the Commission will assess whether the rules on State aid have been respected, but let’s not give judgements before knowing the real facts,” Vestager said in Brussels.

On Tuesday Vestager had promised Calenda she would be “intransigent” on the case.

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