asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will identify those countries in the European Economic Community which provide funds to support industry disadvantaged by electricity costs in competitive trading and the nature of the schemes adopted.
I am aware of one case in which a member State currently provides direct financial assistance to industry in respect of its electricity costs.In Italy, State financial aid is available to the steel industry under a scheme which provides for the Government to give relief to private sector steel producers from the effects of electricity price increases and to make special financial arrangements for the public steel industry.The European Commission has now set in motion the procedures provided by decision 2320/81/ECSC for the regulation of State aids in the steel sector on the basis that:, prima facie, the Italian assistance is incompatible with ECSC rules. In addition the Commission has instituted infringement proceedings under article 88 of the Treaty of Paris. The Government strongly support the European Community's principles on economic pricing and transparency. Where there is evidence of pricing arrangements being applied which contravene Community rules, we shall take the appropriate steps to pursue the matter with the Commission.