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Brussels, 13 July 2009

Commission partly approves public financing for infrastructure development in the Port of Piraeus in Greece

The European Commission has today approved public financing for the construction of a pedestrian bridge and jetties in the passenger section of the Port of Piraeus. However, it has expressed doubts regarding the public financing of the construction of a jetty and the acquisition of different types of equipment in the container terminal section of the same port.

Under the Greek authorities' plan, constructing a pedestrian bridge and jetties in the passenger section of the Port of Piraeus will cost of €5.1 million.

The pedestrian bridge is intended to provide better and safer access to and from the passenger section of the port and the Athens-Piraeus railway station. The jetties are intended to provide extra berthing slots for ships serving the Greek islands.

The Commission considers that the public financing for the bridge's construction does not involve state aid, since it is a general infrastructure, open to all users, which cannot be exploited commercially by the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA).

As for financing the jetties' construction in the port's passenger section, the Commission decided that this measure does constitute State aid, since it concerns public investment in a port facility that can be commercially exploited but that it is compatible with the common market. Indeed, the investment in this port facility is in line with the objectives of the European transport policy: it is aimed at linking peripheral regions - the Greek islands - with the mainland and at ensuring inter-modal connection with the railway system of the Piraeus-Athens urban area.

Greece also intends to finance a jetty in Pier I of the container terminal of the Port of Piraeus, as well as the acquisition of equipment with a total cost of €52.8 million. Part of this infrastructure and equipment is put at the disposal of PPA. The remainder is to be exploited under a concession agreement by a private undertaking chosen on the basis of a Europe-wide open tender.

The Commission finds that this financing does constitute state aid in favour of PPA since it alleviates the port authority from investment costs in commercially exploitable infrastructure which it would normally have to bear. The Commission has therefore decided to open a procedure of in-depth assessment in this regard.

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