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PR(03)09: Area for regional transport aid in Norway

2.6.2003

The Norwegian government has notified to the EFTA Surveillance Authority a new direct transport aid scheme. The notified area covers a region stretching from the county of Nord-Trøndelag and further north and includes parts of the counties Møre og Romsdal and Sør-Trøndelag.

Recently, queries have been raised by the public as to what the geographic extent of a transport aid region could be and whether parts of the counties of Hedmark and Oppland could be included. In this context the Authority would like to briefly explain the main rules applicable and the kind of assessment which needs to be undertaken for the establishment of a national transport aid area according to the EEA Agreement.

At the outset, direct transport aid may only be granted in counties with low population density, defined as less than 12.5 inhabitants per square kilometre. There is, however, a possibility of including parts of counties with higher population density like Møre og Romsdal and Sør-Trøndelag, subject to certain conditions. One condition is that areas that qualified at the outset have to be removed to offset the increase in population that follows from the inclusion of new areas. Another condition is that the areas included in this way must by themselves have a low population density. Furthermore, the transport aid area has to be contiguous.

However, a national transport aid area cannot be determined by these criteria alone. Another important criterion is distance to central markets. The purpose of a transport aid scheme is to compensate enterprises with remote locations for some of the disadvantages long distances, and thereby extra high transport costs, entail. In the Authority’s assessment of the notified scheme, an important factor will be to evaluate whether the notified area is sufficiently distant from the economically important parts of central south-eastern Norway. The Norwegian authorities are aware of the Authority’s opinion in this respect.

As regards the handling of the notification, the Authority has asked for additional information from Norway, including a report on extra transport costs to be presented by the Institute of Transport Economics (TØI). Therefore no decision has yet been taken.

Concerning the question about Hedmark and Oppland counties, the Authority can at this stage only note that these areas are closer to the central south-eastern part of Norway than the notified area. In addition it should be mentioned that the European Commission has approved a transport aid map for Sweden on the basis of the same kind of rules that the Authority is obliged to apply. At the border to Norway the Swedish aid area starts close to the border between the counties of Hedmark and Sør-Trøndelag at a point that is further away from central economic areas in Sweden than from central areas in south-eastern Norway.

For further information please contact Mr Amund Utne, telephone (32) 2 286 1850 or Mr Rolf Egil Tønnessen, telephone (32) 2 286 1856.




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