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Monday, 14 September 2009 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Restructuring of the European car industry, in particular the Opel case (debate)

  Ivo Belet (PPE). (NL) Madam President, Commissioners, ladies and gentlemen, the announcement by Magna, Opel’s new owner, that it is most probably going to close the Antwerp plant is odd, to say the least. After all, we now know that this Opel plant is one of the most profitable, one of the most efficient plants within the General Motors group – and yet they want to close it. There is a good deal to indicate, therefore, that this decision was not based solely on purely economic criteria. Therefore, Commissioners Špidla and Kroes, we have two requests of you today. The first is that you might still use your rock solid competence in the field of competition to ascertain whether the massive State aid promised by some Member States is really compatible with the European rules. Commissioner Kroes, you have rightly promised an investigation. I hope you are given chance both to carry it out thoroughly and, in the short term, to ensure that we are not soon to be presented with a fait accompli. I do not believe it is an exaggeration to say that the credibility of the European Commission is at stake here. Economic nationalism and protectionism have no place in 21st century Europe, and this is a very good dossier to demonstrate that.

Commissioner Kroes, you have a reputation as a woman of steel. We are counting on you to live up to your reputation in this dossier, too, and ensure that the authority of the European Commission is not undermined. I say this entirely without irony.

Secondly, it is essential that Europe comes up with a new industrial project for the automobile sector. We must not look back or focus on missed opportunities, but rather look ahead and focus on the new technology of the new electric car. It is not yet too late. By doing this now, we can ensure that this new electric car is produced using European technology and that we are not all driving Chinese-made electric cars in the future. That is a scenario which it is still perfectly possible to avert.

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