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Textile Industry

Volume 33: debated on Monday 6 December 1982

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asked the Minister for Trade (1) whether he has received representations from members of the textile industry about unfair competition from other European Economic Community countries resulting from State aid to the textile industries in those countries;(2) what information he has on State aid given to textile industries in other countries in the European Economic Community; and if he will make a statement.

The Government have emphasised to the European Commission, whose responsibility it is to ensure compliance with the state aid rules of the Treaty of Rome, their concern about the proliferation of some other Community countries' State aids in the textiles and clothing sector as a whole. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry has written to the Commissioner concerned.The Commission has been holding discussions with the member States. It is now actively investigating textile aids schemes either in operation or proposed in Italy (in the man-made fibre sector), France, Belgium and the Netherlands. In particular, the Commission has started formal proceedings under the treaty in respect of aids proposed to particular Belgian companies, of social contributions paid by French textile employers, and of French charges imposed on the sale of finished textiles and clothing products.I remain ready to look into all evidence of breaches of the State aids rules that come to my notice. My officials will, wherever possible, assist with the presentation of such evidence to the Commission.