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Parliamentary questions
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25 January 2021
Answer given by Ms Ferreira
on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-005403/2020

The Bridgestone plant in Béthune (France), benefited from European support of EUR 350 000 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in the period 2007-2013 to co-finance the creation of an extension aimed at increasing production. The company complied with regulatory requirements for the sustainability of operations.

On 4 September 2013, the Polish authorities submitted an application for confirmation of assistance from the ERDF(1) for the project ‘Rozbudowa zakładu produkcji innowacyjnych opon i bieżników do recyclingu’(2) (completed in 2016), within the framework of the Operational Programme Innovative Economy.

The Commission approved financial support for the given project in 2014 on the basis of the relevant legal provision and the information provided in the application indicating explicitly that the Bridgestone productive investment would not create any net loss of jobs in any other Member State, nor transfer of jobs from other regions of the EU. The Polish authorities have recently confirmed this information, after obtaining explanations from the project beneficiary (Bridgestone Stargard sp.z o.o.).

As the Polish project was completed in 2016, it is difficult to establish a link between the announcement for the closure of the Béthune factory in 2020 and the EU decision granting support to the Polish project back in 2014. Therefore, the Commission does not have a sufficiently solid legal basis to request the repayment of the support from the funds granted to the Béthune plant.

The issue of relocation is one that the Commission will continue to pay particular attention. In this sense, provisions on business relocation have been strengthened in the legislation for the next financial period.

(1)On the basis of Articles 39 and 40 of the Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 of 11 July 2006 (General Regulation).
(2)(CCI 2013PL161PR020).
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