Brussels, 8 September 2004
The Commission today agreed to a French aid scheme for inland waterway transport. This scheme will be in force during the period 2004-2007 with a budget of between €14.5 and €15 million per annum. The aim of this new scheme is to encourage the development of inland waterway transport in France through fleet modernisation and by promoting the occupation of inland waterway carrier. Any inland waterway freight carrier operating in France is potentially eligible for this aid.
The scheme takes over the inland waterway transport aid plan for the period 2001-2003. The new scheme also proposes new aid designed to take better account of current market conditions.
The aid plan is in two main parts. The first part is aimed at modernising the fleet and improving its capacity for carrying specific goods in order to meet the needs of shipping agents and industry while improving its environmental quality. Improving the general technical features of vessels should make it possible to save energy and reduce pollution. The aid will also cover targeted research and development projects to meet an explicit demand and investment in new information and communication technologies.
The second part concerns the promotion and renewal of the occupation of inland waterway carrier through aid for continuous training and aid for the transfer of French vessels to young buyers.
It is proposed that when freight vessels are sold to buyers under 35 years of age, new entrants, or wage-earners setting up their own businesses, aid not exceeding €43/DWT should be paid if the selling price does not exceed €152/DWT. The aid will also be capped at 30% of the total price and at €46 000.
The Commission took the view that this aid is compatible with the competition rules.
 N 299/2001, Commission decision of 2 October 2001.
 Deadweight tonnes.
 On the basis of Article 87(3)(c), the Community guidelines on State aid for environmental protection, the Community guidelines on State aid for research and development and Commission Regulation (EC) No 68/2001 of 12 January 2001 on the application of Articles 87 and 88 of the EC Treaty to training aid.