The European Commission may block the payment by the Romanian government of EUR57m to fund a training programme at the Ford plant at Craiova, south west Romania, because it fears it is illegal state aid.

Brussels has launched a formal state aid inquiry into the planned subsidy, to check whether it does actually break European Union (EU) subsidy laws. The move comes just five months after the Commission approved the payment of EUR143m in other subsidies from the Romanian government to Ford, to help turn around the Craiova vehicle manufacturing complex, which it took over in March.

This latest handout, could be one too many however: EU competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "The Commission supports training that improves the skills of the workforce. However, we must make sure that public funds really lead to additional training and do not just pay for…normal operational costs." The money would fund training from 2008-2012.

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