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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 .

The judgment upholds a decision by the European Commission four years ago, when it said Italy's preferential electricity tariff for Alcoa's Italian arm was illegal because it gave the company an unfair advantage over rivals.

The EU competition authority took legal action against Italy after it failed to claw back the aid. In its ruling on Thursday, the Luxembourg-based European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) agreed with the European Commission.

"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. The case is C-344/12, Commission vs Italy.