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ACEA wants EU to step up aid for car manufacturers

The European automobile industry’s trade association (ACEA) has urged the European Union to intensify and coordinate efforts to restore the functioning of the financial market.

The ACEA has said the vehicle industry needs significantly broader and quicker access to financial support through the European Investment Bank as part of a broader set of measures to survive the economic turmoil.

Carlos Ghosn, president of ACEA and CEO of Renault Nissan, said: “2009 will be a decisive year for our economies and for our industry. The automotive manufacturers are taking all measures within their reach to emerge from the crisis. In parallel, governments have to take urgent and drastic measures to prevent a prolonged period of recession.”

Ghosn met with European Commission vice-president Günter Verheugen and Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes in Brussels today to discuss support measures for the automotive industry.

He also addressed an audience of EU legislators and auto industry stakeholders at the ACEA annual reception in Brussels.

The ACEA members have called for a number of immediate actions for the automotive industry:

• Ensuring a level playing field by deploying and coordinating support measures such as market incentives, fleet renewal schemes and relieving cost of temporary unemployment throughout the EU. While some member states have taken these important steps, other still have to follow.
• Improving access to liquidity by allowing state guarantees for low-interest loans.
• Increasing the amount of European Investment Bank (EIB) funding and ensuring a quicker availability of these funds.
• Safeguarding the competitiveness of the industry by, among others, postponing costly new regulation and ensuring that newly negotiated free trade agreements are balanced.

Ghosn said the measures the EU had agreed on so far were insufficient to meet the needs of the auto industry.

He said: “In October last year, we have called for low-interest loans amounting to €40 billion (£36bn).

“Up to today, vehicle manufacturers have already applied for over €6bn (£5.4bn) in EIB loans and the funds needed in 2009 alone could easily add up to €15bn (£13.5bn). Similar levels may well be necessary in the years thereafter.”

Ghosn wants the decision making procedures to obtain funds to by simplified and shortened.

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