Source: European Commission Spokesperson's Service
The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €1.75 billion German scheme to support the acquisition of alternatively fuelled buses and related infrastructure for public passenger transport in Germany. The scheme will be partly funded by the Recovery and Resilience Facility (‘RRF’), following the Commission's positive assessment of the German recovery and resilience plan and its adoption by Council.
The scheme consists of three sub-measures, respectively supporting (i) the acquisition of battery-electric, fuel-cell-powered or biomethane-powered buses, (ii) the installation of private recharging and refuelling infrastructure, and (iii) environmental studies on the applications of such buses.
Under the scheme, the support will take the form of non-repayable direct grants. The beneficiaries will be selected through an open and transparent competitive bidding process.
The Commission assessed the measure under EU State aid rules, in particular under Article 107(3)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which allows Member States to support the development of certain economic activities under certain conditions, as well as the Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection and energy.
The Commission found the aid is proportionate and limited to the minimum necessary, as the level of the aid will be set though a competitive bidding process and necessary safeguards will be in place (e.g. price caps for the acquisition of the buses and maximum aid per beneficiary per project). The Commission also considers that the measure will encourage the uptake of zero- and low-emission passenger buses, thus contributing to the reduction of CO2 and pollutant emissions, in line with the EU's climate and environmental objectives and the goals set by European Green Deal.
The Commission therefore concluded that the positive effects of the scheme on EU environmental and climate goals outweigh any potential distortion of competition and trade brought about by the support. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU State aid rules. All investments and reforms entailing State aid contained in the national recovery plans presented in the context of the RRF must be notified to the Commission for prior approval, unless covered by one of the State aid block-exemption rules.
The Commission will assess such measures as a matter of priority and has provided guidance and support to Member States in the preparatory phases of the national plans, to facilitate the rapid deployment of the RRF. At the same time, the Commission makes sure in its decision that the applicable State aid rules are complied with, in order to preserve the level playing field in the Single Market and ensure that the RRF funds are used in a way that minimises competition distortions and do not crowd out private investment.
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.61890 in the State aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.