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Brussels, 13 July 2009

Commission approves public support to the planning phase of the Fehmarn Belt transport link between Germany and Denmark

The European Commission approved today the public financing model of the planning phase of the Fehmarn Belt fixed link, considering that it does not fall under the scope of European competition rules on state aid. The financing model notified by Denmark involves public support for Femern Bælt A/S, a fully state-owned company specially established for the planning of the project. The budget of this planning phase is estimated to be DKK 1.445 million (€ 194 million).

The Fehmarn Belt fixed link project will involve the construction and the exploitation of either a bridge or a tunnel to form a fixed road and rail link spanning the 19km-wide Fehmarn Strait between the north of Germany and the south of Denmark. It is expected that the fixed link will be opened for traffic in 2018. The Fehmarn crossing is considered a key element for the completion of the main North-South route connecting central Europe and the Nordic countries and of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T).

The Danish authorities notified the Commission about the public financing of the preparation and planning of the project, which is expected to last at least three years and will inter alia permit to assess the environmental impact of the project.

Femern Bælt A/S, a fully state-owned company, has been specially established to be in charge of this preliminary phase of the project and has to carry out the preparatory work in cooperation with the Danish authorities. In that context, the notified measures consist of a capital injection and guarantees for loans subscribed by Femern Bælt A/S in order to finance this planning phase.

The Commission considers that Femern Bælt A/S acts as a public authority insofar as its involvement in the planning process of the infrastructure is concerned. Therefore, the public financing measures granted to it for the sole purpose of the planning of the project do not constitute state aid within the meaning of Article 87(1) of the EC Treaty. The Commission adds that, in any case, such public support would be compatible with the common market under Article 87(3)(b) of the EC Treaty as it promotes the execution of an important project of common European interest.

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