Richard North, 12/07/2004  

Our new government over the water is laying down the law on assistance to companies in financial difficulties. As of October 2004, they will be required to raise the bulk of any restructuring costs from their own resources and will only be able to receive aid once in a decade.

The conditions are set out in new guidelines published by the commission on 7 July 2004. They are aimed in particular at big pan-European companies, in the wake of the 3.1 billion euro aid package of the French government given to troubled engineering giant Alstom.

How the French, or for that matter the Germans – will respond remains to be seen, but the French in particular are now beginning to find that they are less in command in Brussels than they would wish to be. However, for the average French citizen, who is blissfully unaware of the powers which have been given away to Brussels, a rude awakening cannot be long in coming.

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