Brussels, 8th July 2008
The European Commission today approved the package of measures adopted by France in favour of Société Nationale Corse-Méditerranée (SNCM) as part of the partial privatisation of the company. (See also IP/06/1183 and IP/03/980).
Following its in-depth investigation, the Commission takes the view that the cash injection by the French government, notified in 2002, is compatible with the common market. As compensation for its public service obligation for the period 1991 to 2001 the company received the sum of €53.48 million and restructuring aid of €15.81 million. The Commission already adopted a decision on this injection in 2003, which was annulled by the Court of Justice in 2005.
The Commission also concludes that the measures adopted by France in 2006 as part of the partial privatisation of the company do not constitute state aid. In the Commission’s view, the French government acted as a well-informed investor when it partially sold off SNCM at the negative price of €158 million. This is because, in partially selling off the company at a negative price as opposed to winding it up, France took what was for it the most advantageous option.
The Commission also takes the view that the €8.75 million cash injection by France, made concomitantly with significant private operator intervention, does not constitute state aid.
At the same time France paid €38.5 million for social measures going beyond SNCM’s legal and contractual obligations to employees laid off. The Commission does not consider this measure to have relieved SNCM of its normal burden.
Today’s decision does not cover the complaint relating to the financial compensation which SNCM has received or is to receive for its public service obligation for the period 2007 to 2013. That compensation is the subject of a separate procedure.
 (OJ L 61, 27.2.2004, p. 13).