French, Spanish Funds for Motorways of the Sea

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Funding Commission authorises state aid to a Franco-Spanish Motorways of the Sea project and includes it among the twenty-two selected projects for Marco Polo financing

The European Commission gave its green light for the public financing from France and Spain to the Fres Mos project. It will link the French port of Nantes-Saint Nazaire with the Spanish port of Gijon, and will be operated by GLD Atlantique. This Motorways of the Sea project will also receive an EU grant in the framework of the 2009 Marco Polo II call for proposals, in which the Commission selected twenty-two projects with overall funding of $92.3m. With these projects, the Commission expects to shift a total of 16.8 billion tonne/kilometres of freight away from the roads.

The EU Marco Polo II program selects each year a range of projects that aim to shift freight from the road onto more environmentally-friendly transport modes, such as railway, inland waterway and maritime transport. The EU initiative Motorways of the Sea aims to shift freight transport from road to sea, thereby reducing congestion on roads and decreasing the environmental impact of freight transport and can be supported by State Aid that is compatible with the EU rules The Fres Mos Motorways of the Sea project intends to capture between three and five per cent of the road traffic passing through the western part of the Pyrenees. It is expected to reduce road traffic by around 40,000 trucks a year, a figure that is expected to double in five years.

The Fres Mos project will receive from the Marco Polo II program EU funding of approximately $5.5m. Furthermore, the Commission also approved a complementary state aid for the project amounting to $41.7m where France and Spain will each grant $20.8m. The overall financing of the project will be limited to 35% of the eligible costs within the first four years of its operation in line with the applicable EU rules on State aid.

The Commission concluded that the State aid granted by France and Spain in this case is compatible with the internal market, since it significantly contributes to the EU's strategy for developing a network of Motorways of the Sea, while its impact on competition and intra Union trade is limited.

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