Brussels, 25 January 2012
State aid: Commission approves public service compensation for Hellenic Post (ELTA)
The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, a €52 million grant from the Greek state to Hellenic Post (ELTA) for modernising its infrastructure and improving the quality of public service. The Commission concluded that the measure is compatible with EU state aid rules, because it will not overcompensate ELTA for the provision of its public service obligations.
The modernisation actions financed with the measure aim in particular at i) enlarging the range of services offered to citizens within the whole territory with an emphasis on peripheral regions, ii) increasing the availability of existing services and supporting the provision of new services to a significantly larger number of users, iii) reducing the cost of public service.
The Commission assessed the measure under the 2005 EU Framework on services of general economic interest (SGEI), see IP/05/937, which foresees that public service providers can receive compensation for the net costs of delivering their public service obligations, but should not be overcompensated.
The Commission found that the grant would allow ELTA to partially cover the modernisation costs of its public service infrastructure and earn a reasonable profit over the economic life of the subsidised investments (2012-2021), in line with the SGEI framework. The Commission therefore concluded that the measure was compatible with Article 106(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) that governs the application of the competition rules to SGEI.
Hellenic Post (ELTA) is a Greek state-owned postal operator entrusted with the universal postal service and additional SGEI, such as basic banking services (receipts, payments of social benefits and pensions, payment of bills, cash payments) or the issuing of licences, certifications and certificates sent by the State to citizens.
The measure was notified to the Commission on 9 December 2011. It will prolong for two years and increase by €52 million the modernisation budget already authorised by the Commission in 2003 and granted to ELTA under the 2nd and 3rd Community Support Framework within the programme "Information Society".
The 2003 grants enabled ELTA to upgrade its basic infrastructure, increase overall product quality, and develop innovative technology-driven services in order to satisfy the quality requirements established in Directive 2002/39/EC amending the Postal Directive 97/67/EC with regard to the further opening to competition of European postal services.
However, the quality of postal services in Greece still remains low compared to other Member States, due partly to the geographical particularities of Greece, and partly to the lower modernisation level achieved in comparison to most European postal operators.
The new subsidised investments will enable ELTA to successfully adapt to the growing and more specialised needs and requirements of postal service users (private and business alike) and to the changes originated by progressive electronic substitution, as well as to ensure the provision of high quality universal services.
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under case number SA.32562 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.