European Commission - Press release
State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into financing of arenas in Copenhagen and Uppsala
Brussels, 21 March 2012 - The European Commission has opened two distinct investigations to examine whether public funding for the construction of multifunction arenas in Copenhagen (Denmark) and in Uppsala (Sweden) is in line with EU state aid rules. At this stage, the Commission has concerns that the public funding may procure an undue economic advantage to the new arenas which their competitors do not have, thereby distorting competition in the internal market. The opening of in-depth investigations gives interested third parties an opportunity to comment on the measures under examination. It does not prejudge the outcome of the procedure.
Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy, Joaquín Almunia, commented: "The Commission welcomes the construction of venues for sport and other public events which benefit the general public. However, Member States must ensure that state aid for such investment is really necessary and does not unduly distort competition with other facilities and investors".
In Denmark, the City of Copenhagen plans to build a "multiarena" of international standard, which can provide facilities for music, culture and sport. The main parties to this project are the City of Copenhagen and the private foundation Realdania, which will provide part of the funding. By & Havn, owned by the City of Copenhagen and the Danish State, will provide for free the right to use the land on which the multiarena is to be built. The operator of the multiarena is chosen in an open and transparent tender procedure. The Commission has received two complaints concerning the financing of this new multiarena.
The Uppsala arena in Sweden will be designed for several sports (ice hockey, basketball), entertainment events, various types of meetings (conferences, fairs), etc. The municipality of Uppsala will contribute to the financing in the form of a direct grant. In return, it will receive an option to purchase the Property Company, which will own the arena. Since the arena is to be built on its land, the municipality will enter into a site leasehold agreement with the Property Company. The municipality will also enter into a lease agreement with the operator of the arena, the Events Company.
After preliminary investigations of both arena projects, the Commission has doubts that the need for new multiarenas cannot be met by private actors or by the use of existing arenas. For the Uppsala arena, expansion or renovation of existing arenas may also be a possibility.
The non-confidential version of today's decisions will be made available under case numbers SA.33728 (Copenhagen) and SA.33618 (Uppsala) in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. The electronic newsletter State Aid Weekly e-News lists the most recent decisions on state aid published in the Official Journal and on the website.