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Brussels, 14 July 2004

Commission approves Belgium Flemish aid for the inland navigation sector

The Commission authorised today a Flemish aid which intends to guarantee the access to the Port of Antwerp through inland waterway during the reconstruction works on the Antwerp Ring[1].

The scheme will bear the additional costs for the loading and unloading of containers on inland vessels during the night shift[2] and the two weekend shifts (1st shift Saturday and 2nd shift Sunday) so as not to discourage the inland waterway traffic from and to the Port of Antwerp during the works.

The additional costs for the loading and unloading of containers on inland vessels during the night shift will be partially borne by the Belgian authorities: 1/3 by the Flemish Region[3] and 1/3 by the municipal port authority of Antwerp Gemeentelijk Havenbedrijf Antwerpen (GHA). The remaining 1/3 of the additional costs will be borne by the private container handling companies from the Port of Antwerp.

The aid regime will be applicable for the period 2004-2005 to all EU container inland waterways vessel operators loading or unloading in the Port of Antwerp, irrespectively of their origin and place of destination. The expected budgetary allocation is € 1,788,000.

The Commission has examined the scheme and found it compatible with the common market[4] since it will not distort trade between Member States in a way contrary to the common interest.

[1] The motorway around Antwerp consists of four lanes in each direction. During the works, the number of lanes will be reduced to two in each direction.

[2] Between 10.00 pm and 6.00 am.

[3] The practical organisation and coordination has been entrusted to the public waterway authority N.V.Zeekanaal (NVZ)

[4] By virtue of Article 3 (1) b of Regulation 1107/70 in conjunction with Article 73 of the EC Treaty

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