EU Commission approves Italian earthquake recovery aid

BRUSSELS Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:51am EST

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission gave approval on Wednesday for 2.66 billion euros ($3.51 billion) in state aid to help agriculture recover in three northern Italian regions hit by earthquakes in May this year.

The Commission approved the aid, awarded through grants, interest rate subsidies, guarantees and subsidized financial leasing, to agriculture-related businesses affected by the quakes in Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy and Veneto.

"On the basis of the assurances given by the Italian authorities, the Commission concluded that the measure only compensates for damages caused by the natural disaster and that it introduces an appropriate mechanism to ensure that there will be no overcompensation," the Commission said in a statement.

The scheme provides support for more than 1,000 enterprises active in production, processing and marketing of agricultural products, it added. ($1 = 0.7568 euros)

(Rex Merrifield, Brussels newsroom)

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