Offshore Oil and Gas Facilities

Trade and Industry written question – answered on 11th February 2004.

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Photo of Nick Brown Nick Brown Labour, Newcastle upon Tyne East and Wallsend

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps the (a) Government and (b) European Commission are taking to prevent improper support payments to contractors and sub-contractors by (a) governments and (b) government agencies competing for construction work in Britain's offshore gas and oil industries.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Minister of State (e-Commerce & Competitiveness)

The EU state aid rules are intended to prevent improper payments that can distort competition in the Single Market. The rules apply impartially to funding from all member states and to all levels of government and government agencies. The European Commission is the guardian of the state aid rules and they must examine aid to ensure that it does not distort the Single Market. All aid must be notified to and approved by the European Commission before it can be granted. The Commission is also obliged to investigate any allegations of illegal aid and if necessary take action. This may include recovery action in some cases.

The Government strongly support the state aid regime and all Government funding must be given in accordance with the rules. The Government will also bring to the Commission's attention allegations of illegal aid in other member states.

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