Brussels editorial office
June 17, 2021 2:02 pm
Aid from Italy to the Sicilian shipping company Siremar, currently in liquidation, and to the Sicilian Navigation Company (Sns), which acquired it, are incompatible with EU antitrust rules. This was established by the European Commission, which has now asked our government to recover approximately 1.9 million euros of funds granted, including interest.
Following a series of complaints, in October 2011 the Commission launched an in-depth investigation into various public support measures in favor of companies of the former Tirrenia Group and their respective buyers. The Commission feared that these measures might have given the companies an unfair competitive advantage over their competitors, in breach of EU state aid rules. As Brussels explains in a note, the illegal extension of one year, beyond the six months foreseen, of the rescue aid in favor of Siremar incompatible with the 2004 guidelines on state aid was contrary to EU rules. the rescue and restructuring of companies in difficulty, as well as constituting aid incompatible with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and the exemptions from certain taxes granted to Siremar and Sns in the context of the privatization process must be recovered from Italy, resulting in a reduction in the costs that both companies would otherwise have had to bear.
The amount to be recovered is approximately 1.7 million euros from Sns and 0.2 million euros from Siremar. On the other hand, for the measures concerning Siremar and its purchaser Sns, the Commission concluded that the compensation for public service obligations (approximately € 199 million) granted to Siremar for the management of twenty sea routes, grouped in five geographical areas, from 1 January 2009 to August 1, 2012, is compatible with the 2011 Sieg discipline for sixteen routes and with the 2005 Sieg decision for the remaining four, as this compensation responded to an effective need for public service, guaranteeing regular connections throughout the year. . Furthermore, the aid granted did not lead to overcompensation in favor of Siremar. The Commission also concluded that the compensation for public service obligations (approximately € 668 million) granted to Sns for the management of the same routes in the period between 11 April 2016 and 11 April 2028 as well as the tender procedure for the sale of the Siremar business unit to Sns does not qualify as State aid.