Any support the German government can provide to industry will be judged on a case-by-case basis, the finance minister said on Monday, adding that talks with troubled carmaker Opel should not lead others to jump on the bandwagon.
"The government will have to deal with possible problems at Opel if some 25,000 jobs are affected, as well as suppliers," Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck told Deutschlandfunk radio, but added that the issue also raised competition and legal problems.
"I don't want to invite all kinds of bandwagon-jumpers to come to the German government and say: 'If you're helping Opel, I will tell my story in such a way that you can't refuse to help me too'," he said.
"It will depend on individual cases," said Steinbrueck.
Following Merkel's talks with Opel officials on Monday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Merkel's Social Democratic challenger in next year's general election, will hold talks with car worker representatives in the evening.
On Tuesday, officials from the Finance Ministry, Economy Ministry and German states will hold talks to discuss the broader woes in the auto sector, where demand has been severely hit by the financial crisis.
Troubles in the car sector are a major worry in Germany, Europe's largest economy, where close to one in five workers is employed, directly or indirectly, in the sector.
On Friday, Opel became the first European carmaker to turn to a government for help, asking for guarantees to finance its development and assembly facilities should GM stop supplying cash. The carmaker employs about 25,000 in its German plants in Ruesselsheim, Bochum, Kaiserslautern and Eisenach.
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