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IP/09/1925

Brussels, 15 December 2009

Commission raised no objection to the public financing for new infrastructures in Ventspils Port but raises doubts on a concession price

The European Commission decided today not to raise any objections to the public financing for infrastructure elements in the Latvian port of Ventspils. However, the Commission raised doubts as to whether the concession fee to be paid by the operators of a new terminal and two berths does not involve State aid.

The Commission thus decided not to raise any objections to the public financing for the construction of the Northern breakwater, the dredging of the navigation channel, the renovation of the mooring jetties for the port authority's vessels, the fortification of the coast of the channel and the construction of access railroads in Ventspils port. As for the financing of the terminal and the two berths, the Commission considers that this measure constitutes State aid to the port authority, since it concerns public investment in user-specific infrastructure that can be commercially exploited. The aid is compatible with the common market.

The terminal and the berths will be operated under concession agreements by private port service providers chosen by the port itself. In the lack of an open tendering procedure the Commission has assessed the existence of aid at the level of the concession holders against the criteria laid down by the Commission's Communication on State aid elements in sales of land and buildings by public authorities. 1 The Commission raised doubts to the adequacy of the independent valuation establishing the concession fee. It has therefore decided to start an in-depth assessment in order to assess whether the contracts in question are to be granted on market terms.

1 :

Commission Communication on State aid elements in sales of land and buildings by public authorities, OJ C 209, 10 July 1997, p 3-5.


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