The European Union is ordering Belgium to recoup $230 million from the Duferco steel group because of illegal state aid that distorted competition.

Wednesday's ruling was the second case in short succession in which the EU competition office went after Belgium after it ordered the government to recover some $760 million in illegal tax breaks from 35 multinationals last week.

EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that even when steel companies across the EU are struggling with a crisis in the industry there was no point in providing state aid just to keep a company within a nation.

Duferco received the aid between 2006 and 2011 but nevertheless withdrew most of its business from Belgium later.

The EU also opened a probe into Italian support for the Ilva steel producer.