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EU ministers to meet on troubled carmaker Opel
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13:26, May 29, 2009

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The European Commission called on Thursday for a meeting of European Union (EU) economy and industry ministers to coordinate their response to troubled carmaker Opel, European subsidiary of the U.S. giant General Motors.

The meeting is scheduled to take place in Brussels on Friday afternoon and industry ministers from all the 27 EU member states have been invited, Ton van Lierop, spokesman for EU Industry Commissioner Gunter Verheugen, said.

Van Lierop said the aim of the meeting is to "exchange information" and "provide coordination," without giving further details.

Opel's future was put into doubt as its parent General Motors is facing imminent bankruptcy. EU countries which host Opel plants are mulling state aid measures to shore up the European carmaker in order to protect thousands of jobs.

GM currently has plants in Belgium, Poland and Spain for Opel, Vauxhall in Britain and Saab in Sweden.

Germany, where GM has most factories and employees in Europe, is negotiating with the U.S. carmaker on taking control of Opel and providing emergency financing to keep it float in the event of the bankruptcy of its parent.

However, overnight talks between the German government, GM and the U.S. government ended in the early hours of Thursday morning without a deal.

Italian carmaker Fiat and Canadian-Austrian auto parts supplier Magna are competing to buy Opel, while the German government is weighing the offers.

The EU ministers' meeting was called when Belgium expressed concern that Berlin may choose a buyer on condition that German jobs should be preserved, which could mean closure of factories in other countries.

Source: Xinhua

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