BELGIUM: Brussels OKs Romania hand-outs for Ford plant training

By Keith Nuthall | 8 December 2009

The European Commission has demonstrated its wholehearted backing for the development of Ford's new Craiova car plant in Romania, approving a EUR57m subsidy from the government for training.

Acting as the European Union's (EU) national handout regulator, the commission has allowed the grant, on condition it is released in installments, which match Ford's training expenses. It also wants annual reports on the training and attendance certificates to be issued to workers attending courses funded by the subsidies. The money will cover 50% the costs of general training and 25% of training costs for specific tasks.

Outgoing EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "The proposed aid supports an ambitious training project expected to produce positive effects for the employees of the Craiova plant, for regional development and for society as a whole. However, we imposed stringent conditions to make sure that the aid achieves its objectives and does not [cause] undue distortions of competition" with other EU member states.

Ford Romania has said up to 9,000 workers at Craiova plant would receive in-depth training in subjects such as safety, foreign languages, information technology, business and industrial skills.

In its investigation, the commission concluded there had been "underinvestment in training" within the Romanian auto sector in the past.

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EC eyes Ford Romania aid