EU clears $3.65B in aid to German coal
According to the Associated Press, the EU Commission has just approved Germany's plan to spend more than $3.65 billion to support its coal industry for 2004. "The aid is compatible with the proper functioning of the common market," a spokesman said.
Almost all of the aid — $3.6 billion will go to one German firm: RAG AG. Dr. A Schaefer Bergbau GmbH will received $1.2 million while Bergwerksgesellschaft Merchweiler GmbH will get $6.1 million.
The aid is part of Germany's plans to gradually reduce production. It includes funds to cover the difference between production costs and selling prices, the costs of running the mines and money to cover exceptional costs arising from the industry's restructuring.
Of course, state aid is illegal under EU law... unless it happens to be the German coal industry, Air France, Alstrom... Then, miraculously, it becomes "compatible with the proper functioning of the single market", and turns out to be legal after all!