THE EUROPEAN Commission has launched an investigation into state aid payments made by the French government to compensate shellfish farmers harmed by the oil spill following the sinking of the tanker Erika in the Bay of Biscay and also damages from a particularly violent storm, both in December 1999.

Brussels is checking whether financial benefits made to shellfish farmers across France and its overseas territories have broken EU rules on national government subsidies; a negative ruling could lead to the Commission ordering their ...

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