Brussels, 19 December 2012
State aid: Commission approves € 100 million aid for infrastructure at Port of Augusta, Sicily
The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules aid totalling €100 million granted by Italy for an infrastructure investment project of €145,33 million at the Port of Augusta, in Sicily.
The investment project will allow the Port of Augusta to upgrade existing infrastructure for the cargo handling and to host container traffic.
The aid was found compatible with EU rules on state aid, because it serves an objective of common interest, i.e. adapting existent infrastructure to intermodal transport. Moreover, the public financing is necessary in order to make the project possible and the aid is limited to the amount strictly necessary in order to achieve this goal. Finally, the potential distortions of competition are relatively limited.
The public funding of infrastructure investment projects is subject to EU state aid rules when the infrastructure is destined to be commercially exploited (see judgment of the Court of 24 March 2011 in Joined Cases T-455/08 and T-443/08 Leipzig Halle). Therefore public funding for infrastructure investment projects that have a commercial use must be notified to the Commission for prior approval under EU state aid rules.
As regards the infrastructure investment project at the Port of Augusta, Italy carried out an in-depth economic and financial cost-benefit analysis showing that the income to be generated by the use of the infrastructure for the Port Authority will not be sufficient to cover investment costs. The financing gap ratio for the project was estimated to be 68.87%. The public funding of EUR 100 million is limited to the identified financing gap. It is therefore necessary to make the project possible.
The additional cargo and container traffic capacity to be generated by this project at the Port of Augusta from 2015 onwards, when the project should be completed, is not likely to cause any significant distortions of competition and intra-EU trade.
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.34940 the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.