ROME, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Italian Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said on Wednesday that the European Commission should sanction Slovakia if it is using state aid to lure companies away from European Union partners.
Embraco, a Brazil-based firm controlled by U.S. domestic-appliance giant Whirlpool, has announced it will close a factory in northern Italy and relocate to Slovakia, cutting 497 jobs.
Industry Minister Carlo Calenda on Tuesday flew to Brussels to try to persuade European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager to declare Slovak enticements to Embraco as illegal state aid.
"We'll see if Vestager says there was state aid, as I think is possible," Padoan said in a radio interview. "If so, then the Commission should severely sanction (Slovakia) because it would be a violation of internal market rules."
The factory closing has taken centre stage in Italy's election campaign ahead of a March 4 national vote, with opposition parties accusing the government of failing to make its voice heard in Brussels. (Reporting by Steve Scherer)