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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 April 2006, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
EU 'did not export Peugeot jobs'
Aerial shot of Ryton plant
The Amicus union believes Peugeot had long-term plans to leave Ryton
The EU has denied claims it killed off Peugeot's Ryton plant in the UK and helped move production to Slovakia.

A European Commission spokeswoman said the French car company had neither requested nor received European grants.

UKIP MEP Mike Nattrass had claimed British taxpayers had subsidised the export of British car workers' jobs.

He said EU money was going into the Trnava car plant in Slovakia to produce the 207 model. The Midlands car plant which makes the 206 closes next year.

Derek Simpson, general secretary of the union Amicus, accused the car-maker of planning the Ryton closure years ago.

'It takes planning'

He said firms was using the new plants in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and France to move work from Ryton.

He said: "That isn't something that can have happened over the last six months. It takes more planning than that.

Peugeot has rejected Mr Simpson's claims after insisting that the closure decision followed a recent strategic review.

The company has maintained that Ryton was the most expensive of its plants to run, with most components imported from France.

Some 2,300 jobs are set to disappear from the plant on the Coventry-Warwickshire border before July 2007.

Councils in the area are already thinking of a future use for the site and believe good road and air links could help attract a new firm.

Barbed wire fence surrounding Peugeot factory in Ryton
The final 206 models will come off the Ryton line next July

Peugeot will continue to employ 1,000 people at two other Coventry bases when Ryton closes.

The EU dismissed the idea that 78m from its structural and cohesion funds - money to help the regeneration of poorer parts of the Union, such as Slovakia - had been part of the catalyst for Ryton's closure.

UK Independence Party MEP and transport spokesman Mike Nattrass said: "The Commission has decided that Trnava deserves the jobs more than Coventry, with the British government nothing more than a helpless bystander.

"How can our democratically elected parliament at Westminster have given the unelected European Commission the power to play god with British workers jobs?"

'Strict rules'

An EU spokeswoman said Slovakia could not have received EU grant aid and then passed it on to Peugeot as part of a cash incentive to transfer car production there.

She said: "There are strict state aid rules. When a member state gives state aid it must notify the Commission and each case is analysed before agreement is - or is not - given.

"Money from EU structural funds cannot be injected in the form of state aid and there are very strict controls showing how money is used for specific programmes and projects.

"All this is monitored by the Commission and the member states."


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