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Brussels, 10th May 2007

Commission authorises Belgium to support intermodal transport by Flemish inland waterways

The European Commission has decided today not to raise any objections to Belgian State aid aimed at shifting container transport from road to inland waterways. Under the new scheme, a subsidy will be granted per each container transhipped to an inland container terminal from or to an inland waterway vessel.

Currently, the intermodal transport of containers using Flemish inland waterways is more expensive than container transport exclusively by road. These higher costs result mainly from the costs of the transhipment of containers from and to the inland waterway vessel. Combined transport is therefore at a competitive disadvantage to road transport. The subsidy is meant to neutralise this difference in costs.

The Commission found that the proposed scheme is in line with the EU rules governing state aids, as

  • the subsidy is limited to the additional costs, which are linked to intermodal transport by inland waterways (i.e. the transhipment to an inland container terminal from or to the inland waterway vessel);
  • it will lead to a reduction of the difference in costs between different modes of transport, as it only provides for compensation for costs that transport companies operating exclusively on roads do not have to bear.

Furthermore, the measure promotes the shift from road transport to inland waterway transport, which is in line with the common transport policy.

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