The Italian government will meet next Wednesday (28 January) to discuss possible help for the auto industry.

"In the meeting we will assess the situation of the sector and the possible measures to be taken in light of the (policy) line ... from the meeting of industry ministers in Brussels last Friday on the auto sector," Italy's economic development minister Claudio Scajola said in a note cited by Reuters.

The meeting - involving sector organisations Anfia (auto and parts producers), Federaicpa (representing car dealers) and Ancma (representing two- and three-wheel producers) - will take place at 1700GMT, the report said.

Asked whether the government planned to give financial aid to the car industry, prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said: "We'll see, there are also measures that are not costly to the state and that help sales."

Reuters noted he had said earlier the car sector was in steep decline and was among those "that need an intervention". His government was in "constant contact" with other European countries, particularly France, in order to take measures that would not discriminate against some companies.

France has promised up to EUR6bn in aid to its domestic industry and the US government has made loans to GM and Chrysler.