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PR(04)36: EFTA Surveillance Authority closes formal investigation concerning the prolongation of the existing Hurtigruten contracts


In April 2004, the Norwegian authorities informed the EFTA Surveillance Authority of their intention to prolong the existing contracts with Ofotens og Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskab ASA and Troms Fylkes Dampskibsselskap ASA for operating maritime transport services along the Norwegian coast (“the so-called Hurtigruten agreements”). The prolongation was considered necessary by the Norwegian authorities, because at the time it was not certain that new operators possibly chosen by a tender procedure completed in September 2004 would be able to commence business as of 1 January 2005. According to Norway, the prolongation would have also required compensation of the ‘Hurtigruten companies’ over the State budget for certain public service obligations.

On 11 August 2004, the Authority opened the formal investigation procedure against the prolongation of the existing contracts because of doubts whether the prolongation was in compliance with the EEA State aid provisions. 

The tender procedure resulted in one offer by the incumbent operators. As the Norwegian authorities will now start negotiations for new contracts following the tender procedure, they no longer see a need to prolong the existing agreements for one or two years as notified to the Authority. Consequently, the notification for the prolongation of the existing contracts to the Authority was withdrawn.

As the subject matter of the Authority’s investigation concerned only the prolongation of the existing contracts, the Authority has now closed that investigation.

For further information, please contact Ms Annette Kliemann, Officer Competition and State aid, tel.: (+32) (0)2 286 18 80.

20 October 2004

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