Vauxhall Motors has been authorised by the European commission to provide state aid of GBP8.7m for a staff training programme at its car-manufacturing plant at Ellesmere Port, Merseyside.

When Vauxhall notified Brussels of the aid last July, the commission expressed concern that some training might be “indispensable to the plant’s normal operations and would be carried out even without state aid.” This would be illegal under EU rules. The commission also suspected that part of the training “could concern skills which are specific to Vauxhall, and thus could not be used in other firms or sectors.” This would have limited the amount of state aid allowed.

Brussels made an in-depth investigation during which the UK government provided further information, allowing it to “verify that the subsidised training goes beyond the basic training necessary for Vauxhall’s operations and that the programme will provide the trainees with transferable skills that could benefit other employers and other sectors.”

EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said the aid “will add real value to Vauxhall’s ambitious training programme and make a genuine contribution to the skills and competitiveness of European car workers.”