UPDATE 1-EU court orders Italian state to recover Alcoa aid
BRUSSELS Oct 17 (Reuters) - Europe's highest court ordered Italy on Thursday to take back about 295 million euros ($398 million) of state aid given to U.S. aluminium producer Alcoa Inc in the previous decade in the shape of a preferential power tariff.
The judgment upholds a decision by the European Commission four years ago, when it said the tariff for Alcoa's Italian arm was illegal because it gave the company an unfair advantage over rivals.
The EU competition authority took Italy to court after it failed to claw back the aid. In its ruling, the Luxembourg-based European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) agreed with the EU competition authority.
"Italy has failed to fulfil its obligation to recover state aid granted to Alcoa in the form of a preferential electricity tariff," judges wrote in their decision.
The ECJ's decision is final and cannot be appealed.
Alcoa, the largest aluminium producer in the United States, said it had already paid back most of the aid.
"Alcoa has made payments of 50 million euros before October 2012 and four instalments of about 50 million euros each, paid on October 2012, March 2013, June 2013, and September 2013," Alcoa spokeswoman Monica Orbe said in an email.
"Remaining final payment of about 50 million euros is scheduled to be paid in December 2013," she said.
The case is C-344/12, Commission vs Italy.
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