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EU Approves Subsidies for Britain's Post Office

European Union regulators on Wednesday approved 460 million euros($313 million) in government subsidies for the network of thousands of post offices around Britain since it considers their service essential.

"Public services are a vital part of the European economy, and the Commission recognizes their importance," said EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

"Aid can therefore be approved where the amount is strictly limited to what is necessary to cover the costs of public service obligations," she added. Over the years, the EU Commission has increasingly pounced on illegal subsidies to prop up unprofitable, and often state-owned, companies.

The British government granted the subsidies to Post Office, which operates a network of about 14,000 post offices, a large part of which are operated under agency contracts.

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