National governments seeking to subsidise food businesses should respond to European Commission requests for information on such schemes comprehensively and swiftly, or face bans, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

It said Italy should have proved a €30m (US$36.4m) scheme was limited to troubled greenhouse vegetable, fruit and mushroom producers, as it claimed, complying with European Union state aid rules.

Instead, "Italy failed to produce the documentation", and so, "the Commission was entitled to adopt a negative decision". The case was testing rules covering when Brussels is asked to approve or reject state aid within two months after assessing it for the usual 18 months.