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American Shipper

EC updates public investment rules for ports

The executive arm of the European Union has approved new state aid rules that promote public investment in seaports and airports while preserving competition, according to the press release from the European Commission.

   The European Commission (EC) has approved new state aid rules to facilitate public investment for job creation and growth in seaports and airports while also preserving competition, the agency said in a statement.
   In 2014, the EC enabled European Union (EU) member states to implement aid measures without prior Commission approval. As a result, 95 percent of state aid measures are now exempted. The new state aid rules now extends the scope of the 2014 regulation to seaports and airports.
   EU member states can now make public investments of up to 150 million euros (U.S. $167.8 million) in sea ports and up to EUR 50 million in inland ports, including investment costs in dredging.
   The EC has also made it easier for public authorities to compensate companies for the additional costs they face when operating in the EU’s outermost regions, where remoteness is a limiting factor.
   The rules aim to “reduce administrative burdens for public authorities and other stakeholders in the context of the Commission’s Regulatory Fitness and Performance of EU Legislation (REFIT) agenda,” said the EC.
   The new rules are  part of the EC’s effort to refocus state aid on competition to facilitate public investment in support of our common goals on jobs and growth, climate, innovation and social cohesion – all part of the “single market” strategy of the EU.
   “We want to ensure that companies can compete on equal terms in the single market – and we want to do so in the most efficient way. EU state aid rules are the same for all member states,” said Margrethe Vestager, EC commissioner in charge of competition policy.
   “Today’s changes will save them time and trouble when investing in ports and airports, culture and the EU’s outermost regions, whilst preserving competition,” she added. “They also allow the Commission to focus attention on state aid measures that have the biggest impact on competition in the Single Market, to be ‘big on big things and small on small things’ to the benefit of all European citizens.”

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