Stena Line disagrees with Commission’s decision to allow State aid for the Femern A/S undersea tunnel project

Gothenburg, 31 July 2015 – Stena Line considers the European Commission’s tacit approval of public financing of the Fehmarn Belt fixed rail-road link between Denmark and Germany discriminatory and not in line with EU State aid rules. Consequently, Stena Line will await the publication of the full decision and consider to appeal the Decision.

Stena Line is a provider of maritime transport links between mainland Europe and the Scandinavian Peninsula. “The existence of 9 ferry routes between 14 different ports is based on established interconnectivity needs and fair competition. The market is more than adequately served by these ferry routes. All the State’s involvement achieves is an extra 8 billion € cost for the taxpayers. A fixed undersea tunnel link between Rødby and Puttgarden supported by unjustified State aid creates an un-level playing field and distorts competition with the well-functioning ferry services which have been provided for many years. It also goes against the principle of shifting transport away from road,” says Carl-Johan Hagman, CEO Stena Line.

Stena Line notes that the Commission’s Press Release does not confirm whether the payment of State aid has taken place, but simply states that if State aid is involved, the aid can be approved.  In doing so, the Commission seems to be taking an approach which is entirely out of touch with well-established case-law of the Union Courts and the practice of the European Commission, such as the Øresund Commission Decision, which confirms that public financing for commercially exploited infrastructure is subject to the State aid rules.

In addition to the above, the Commission does not seem to have prescribed a timeframe for the State aid. “The idea of open-ended State aid without time limits, for a project of this magnitude, simply makes no sense. This provides the operators of the tunnel with the ability to use the State aid to dump their State-subsidised prices, thereby squeezing out competitors such as ferry operators,” Hagman said.

Stena Line awaits the publication of the full Decision and will consider to challenge the Decision before the Union courts in Luxembourg. No doubt other affected operators will be doing likewise.

For more information, please contact Claes Berglund, Director of Public Affairs, Stena AB  +46 (0) 704 8 55104. claes.berglund@stena.com

Stena Line is one of the world's largest ferry operators with 35 ferries and 22 routes in northern Europe. Stena Line is developing new intermodal freight solutions by combining transport by rail, road and sea and it is an important part of the European logistics network. The company is family-owned, was founded 1962 and the head office is located in Gothenburg. Stena Line is part of the Stena Sphere, which has around 20.500 employees and a turnover of SEK 54 billion.

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Stena Line is one of Europe's leading ferry companies with 37 vessels and 20 routes in Northern Europe. Stena Line is an important part of the European logistics network and develops new intermodal freight solutions by combining transport by rail, road and sea. Stena Line also plays an important role for tourism in Europe with its extensive passenger operations. The company is family-owned, was founded in 1962 and is headquartered in Gothenburg. Stena Line is part of the Stena AB Group, which has about 15 000 employees and an annual turnover of around 36 billion SEK.

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Quotes

The existence of 9 ferry routes between 14 different ports is based on established interconnectivity needs and fair competition.
Carl-Johan Hagman, CEO Stena Line.