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Maritime connections to Corsica: a European Union investigation opened into French state aid

2024-02-23T12:01:49.363Z

Highlights: Brussels is seeking to verify whether the aid allocated to Corsica Linea and La Méridionale, which serve the Isle of Beauty, complies with European law. The European Commission announced on Friday that it had opened an “in-depth investigation” into state aid granted by France to two ferry companies serving Corsica. In 2022, the Corsican Assembly voted to award a maritime public service delegation, from 2023 to the end of 2029, to the ferry companies.


Brussels is seeking to verify whether the aid allocated to Corsica Linea and La Méridionale, which serve the Isle of Beauty, complies with European law.


The European Commission announced on Friday that it had opened an

“in-depth investigation”

into state aid granted by France to two ferry companies serving Corsica.

This investigation must

“evaluate whether the public service compensation granted to Corsica Linea and La Méridionale for serving Corsica between 2023 and 2030 complies with EU rules on state aid

,” said the European executive.

“The opening of the investigation gives France and other interested parties the opportunity to present their comments and in no way prejudges its outcome

,” insists Brussels, watchdog of competition within the single market.

In 2022, the Corsican Assembly voted to award a maritime public service delegation, from 2023 to the end of 2029, to Corsica Linea and La Méridionale for

“maritime transport of passengers and goods”

.

These two companies have therefore shared since January 2023, individually or in coordination, the five connections between the island (ports of Ajaccio, Bastia, Propriano, L'Île-Rousse and Porto-Vecchio) and Marseille.

France has notified Brussels

of “(total) compensation of 853.6 million euros for the provision of these services”

, recalls the press release.

Read also Europe takes a step towards farmers

Other information required

“At this stage, based on its preliminary assessment, the Commission considers that additional information is necessary to determine whether these public compensations paid to Corsica Linea and La Méridionale comply with EU rules

,” adds- he.

In particular, Brussels wants to verify

“whether the inclusion of the transport of towed goods and road drivers in the contracts is justified by a need for a public service, taking into account the already existence on the market of a commercial offer”

for a neighboring port.

Likewise, the European executive wonders whether the volume of goods traffic provided for in the contracts

“does not exceed the public service need identified by the authorities”

.

Under EU state aid rules for public service compensation, companies can be compensated for the additional cost of providing a public service, but subject to certain strictly regulated criteria.

And this is to ensure that they do not receive

“overcompensation”

: the idea is to guarantee optimal use of public funds while

“minimizing distortions of competition”

, recalls Brussels.

Source: lefigaro

All business articles on 2024-02-23

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