Brussels has expressed serious reservations about the restructuring package put forward by the government to save Northern Rock, the stricken mortgage lender, including fears that state aid could drag on for too long.

The European Commission’s first assessment of the plan, set out in the European Union’s official journal, says it 'doubts whether the size and duration of this downsizing are sufficient to avoid undue distortions...[or] that...a deeper and more rapid downsizing could not be implemented'.

In particular, the regulator is worried that the restructuring plan may run for an unnecessarily long period, that the state aid could have been more limited and that more could be done to compensate rivals over distortions to competition.

Financial Times