Fiat CEO Calls for Aid to European Auto Industry

Says Europe can't stand by while U.S. assists its auto industry

Fiat chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo on Nov. 19 called on EU governments to support their auto industries to ensure they remain competitive with U.S. automakers. "If the U.S. government becomes GM's (General Motors') principal stockholder, Europe cannot stand idly by," Montezemolo said in an interview published by the daily La Repubblica.

But he warned against a scattershot approach, saying: "Europe must find a common recipe for stimulating the automobile industry, (which) represents a significant segment of the continent's GDP, especially in countries such as Germany, France and Italy."

If Washington bails out the U.S. auto industry, "what will happen if we remain immobile is a change in the rules of competition that will heavily penalize the industry of the Old Continent," the Fiat chief said.

Fiat said late last month that its results for 2008 would be at the lower end of forecasts and that the world financial crisis would cut deeply into its profits in 2009. The company has carried out several weeks of work suspensions since October.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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