State aid: Commission approves Austrian measures to support rail freight and passenger operators affected by the coronavirus outbreak

Daily News 26 / 11 / 2020


Economy - published on 30 November 2020


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Source: European Commission Spokesperson’s Service

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, two Austrian measures supporting the rail freight sector and one measure supporting the rail passenger sector in the context of the
coronavirus outbreak. The two measures supporting the rail freight sector will ensure increased public support to further encourage the shift of freight traffic from road to rail, and the third
measure introduces temporary relief for rail operators providing passenger services on a commercial basis. The Commission found that the measures are beneficial for the environment and for mobility
as they support rail transport, which is less polluting than road transport, while also decreasing road congestion. The Commission also found that the measures are proportionate and necessary to
achieve the objective pursued, namely to support the modal shift from road to rail whilst not leading to undue competition distortions. Finally, the waiver of infrastructure access charges provided
for in the second and third measures described above is in line with the recently adopted Regulation (EU) 2020/1429. This Regulation allows and encourages Member States to temporarily authorise the
reduction, waiver or deferral of charges for accessing rail infrastructure below direct costs. As a result, the Commission concluded that the measures comply with EU State aid rules, in particular
the
2008 Commission Guidelines on State aid for railway undertakings
(“the Railway Guidelines”). Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said:
“The measures approved today will enable the Austrian authorities to support not only rail freight transport operators, but also commercial passenger operators in the context of the coronavirus
outbreak. This will contribute to maintaining their competitiveness compared to other modes of transport, in line with the EU Green Deal objective. We continue working with all Member States to
ensure that national support measures can be put in place as quickly and effectively as possible, in line with EU rules.” The full press release is available online.

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