Brussels, 22 January 2014
State aid: Commission approves German public service compensation for school bus transport in Rhineland-Palatinate
The European Commission has found a regional law compensating bus and tram companies in the German Land Rhineland-Palatinate that are obliged to offer tickets at a reduced price to pupils, students and trainees, to be in line with EU State aid rules. The measure ensures affordable school bus transport in Rhineland-Palatinate, while limiting competition distortions in the Single Market.
In June 2013 Germany notified to the Commission plans for a regional law making it mandatory for all bus and tram companies in Rhineland-Palatinate to offer reduced fares for pupils, students and trainees. In return, these companies would be entitled to compensation from the Land. This new system of compensation is intended to replace, in Rhineland-Palatinate, a federal system currently in place.
The Commission found that the regional law clearly defines a public service obligation by requiring transport companies to offer reduced fares to pupils, students and trainees. The law also defines how to calculate the compensation for carrying out this public service in advance in an objective and transparent manner. Moreover, the regional law provides for a mandatory ex post control mechanism to avoid that any transport company could be over-compensated. This will minimise distortions of competition. The compensation is available to all companies that offer transport services in Rhineland-Palatinate. The Commission therefore concluded that the measure was in line with Article 93 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) that allows compensation for certain public transport service obligations.
In addition, the aid granted under the regional law has a social character, benefits final consumers and is granted in a non-discriminatory manner. It is therefore also in line with Article 107(2)(a) TFEU.
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.34155 in 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.