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EU green light for Post Office financial support

30 November, 2007


Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Gerry McHugh MLA has welcomed the EU decision to authorise direct government aid to support the postal service.

The European Commission said on Thursday that the British government could help its post offices with a £634 million funding package starting on April 1 without violating EU state aid rules.

Mr McHugh said:

"This EU ruling on direct government intervention to support our Post Office Network now means that we can move to put in place a lifeline, particularly for the many rural Post Offices that were under threat.

"In Britain this means that there can be some £634 million pounds of funding available from on April 1 without violating EU state aid rules. I want to ensure that we are in a position to offer a similar level of support for threatened Post Offices here.

"The European Union competition watchdog also ruled that government can also continue providing loan facilities for cash services at post office counters.

"This ruling clearly recognises the invaluable public service that our Post Office provides. We now need to end the uncertainty and set out of long-term vision for the future of Post Office Network in this part of Ireland." ENDS

Note to Editors

State aid is generally illegal but an exemption exists for public services.

The European Commission statement said:

"Under the community framework for state aid in the form of public service compensation, it is for the member states to define the public service.

"The Post Office Network is entrusted with important public service tasks and the Commission is satisfied that the requirements of the community framework for state aid in the form of public service compensation are met."

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