The European Commission has sent a team to Renault's plant in Flins, France, to investigate a claim by the Japanese automaker Nissan that it would be more cost-effective to make its Micra model there than in its existing plant in Sunderland, North England, writes the UK's Financial Times (30/11/00).

According to the FT, the investigation of Renault - which owns 36.8 per cent of Nissan - comes only weeks before Nissan is to make a final decision as to whether to move Micra production from Sunderland to a site owned by the French car manufacturer.

Nissan cites the strength of sterling as a factor in moving production away from the UK and has been reported to be pressuring the UK Government into granting a £40m ($US57m) aid package as an incentive to remain in the UK.

The article reports that the commission - which has expressed concerns about the necessity of Governmental aid - can block the proposed aid, with Mario Monti, the competition commissioner, describing it as 'an evil'.