German Chancellor Angela Merkel is maintaining a cautious line on German government assistance for Opel.

“We will support firms like Opel only if our help ensures a good future for these companies and doesn’t just uselessly go up in smoke because a company has failed in the market,” Merkel told the Bild daily in an interview.

She said the German government would only assist struggling companies if it can be shown that the advantages for people in Germany are ‘greater than the damage’.

“State help can only be a bridge out of the problems of the economic crisis, after which companies have to be successful in the market under their own steam,” Merkel said.

GM Europe submitted a rescue plan for its operations last month under which they would be partly spun off. However, the plan also called for EUR3.3bn in state aid and that has met with a cautious response from national governments, including Germany’s.