The European Commission has indicated it expects the Portuguese government to take the necessary steps to ensure bankrupt shipbuilder Estaleiros Navais de Viana do Castelo (ENVC) repays EUR290 million (USD325 million) in state aid.
The commission announced last week that direct and indirect subsidies received by state-owned ENVC between 2006 and 2011 had not been compatible with European Union state aid rules and would need to be repaid.
It also specified that the aid would need to be repaid by ENVC itself and not by the new operator of the Viana do Castelo site, WestSea, which it said had acquired ENVC assets in normal market conditions.
Asked how the commission intended to see to it that ENVC, which is in the process of being wound up, repays the aid, a commission source told IHS Maritime that responsibility for recovery of the aid lay with the Portuguese authorities and that it is for them to decide how they go about doing this.
In the event that the company is in liquidation, the Portuguese state could claim against the assets in liquidation, as was generally done in such cases, the source said.
Last week, however, Portuguese defence minister José Pedro Aguiar-Branco claimed that ENVC would not be required to repay the aid since it would cease to exist. The government’s decision to close down the company had saved the public purse the EUR290 million it would have otherwise had to pay, he said.