State aid notification to European Commission on aid scheme for maritime transport
On 11 September 2020, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment submitted a State aid notification to the European Commission concerning an aid scheme for maritime transport implemented in Finland during the spring and summer. The body implementing the aid scheme was the National Emergency Supply Agency.
The travel and other restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus caused serious and quite immediate difficulties especially for passenger ships. The aid scheme made sure that maritime transport operations continued without disruptions in the key routes in terms of Finland’s emergency supplies.
Even before submitting the State aid notification, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the National Emergency Supply Agency had unofficial discussions on the aid scheme with the Commission. The aim of the notification procedure that has now been launched is to have full legal certainty of the compliance of the aid scheme with the EU law and to obtain the Commission’s official approval for the aid.
The European Commission controls that the aid schemes are compliant with the State aid rules of the EU. During the spring and summer the Commission approved major flexibilities to the rules to alleviate the negative economic and social impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Commission has also advised the Member States on how the EU countries can ensure the functioning of maritime transport through State aid targeted to fulfilling the public service obligation. The compensation procedure of the National Emergency Supply Agency is also based on the public service obligation assigned to the shipping companies and on covering the losses incurred from fulfilling this obligation.
During the spring and summer the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the National Emergency Supply Agency had unofficial talks on the compatibility of the aid scheme for maritime transport with the EU law and, in particular, with the more flexible rules due to the coronavirus pandemic. Based on these discussions, a notification procedure has been launched to obtain the Commission’s formal approval for the aid scheme.
Olli Hyvärinen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 7026, [email protected]
Sami Hartikainen, Legal Counsel, National Emergency Supply Agency, tel. +358 295 051 118, [email protected]