FLORENCE (Reuters) - EU regulators do not see any state aid issues in France’s decision to order 21 fast trains from Alstom in a pre-election job-saving move, the bloc’s competition chief said on Friday.
France last week unveiled the order for the high speed TGV trains at an historic locomotive plant, most of which may never run on a suitable fast track.
The order may be worth as much as 630 million euros (567.48 million pounds) for 20-percent state-owned Alstom, a source told Reuters.
European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager who has the final word on whether EU governments can grant subsidies to troubled companies without giving them an unfair advantage, said she did not see any problems.
“No, we have so far of course no concerns, it’s not a case on our table. And if there is no case, there is no decision in the pipeline,” Vestager told reporters on the sidelines of a conference organised by the International Bar Association.
The French move has drawn criticism from some quarters because putting expensive high-speed rolling stock onto a traditional rail system would also increase state rail operator SNCF’s operating costs.
President Francois Hollande is fighting to win a second term, promising he can reduce a rising jobless rate that is above 10 percent.
Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek