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State Aid

State aid: Hurtigruten in Norway received incompatible aid in 2008



The extra compensation granted by Norway in 2008 to Hurtigruten for transport services from Bergen to Kirkenes is incompatible with the EEA Agreement. Hurtigruten will have to re-pay any overcompensation to the Norwegian Government, the EFTA Surveillance Authority decided today.

It is for the Norwegian Government to calculate and recover the incompatible aid.

EEA law does not prohibit member states to pay for this kind of services, but transparency is needed to ensure that public money intended for public service does not subsidise commercial activities or generate unreasonable profit,” Mr. Per Andreas Bjørgan, director of the Authority's State Aid department, said.

The decision concerns the public service contract tendered out and agreed in 2004 and expiring by the end of 2011.

In 2008, Norway increased the agreed compensation to Hurtigruten ASA by way of different measures for the remaining contract period:

  • reimbursement of NOx payment
  • general compensation due to increased costs 
  • decreased number of ships providing the services

As a consequence, the total compensation for the public service in 2008 amounted to NOK 363 million instead of NOK 288 million. This was done without a new tender and without a clear allocation of costs. Separate accounts were not kept for the commercial operation and the public service obligation. The aid was not notified to the Authority.

The Authority opened a formal investigation into these additional payments in July 2010, because of doubts whether the compensation amounted to state aid and whether it reflected the actual, additional costs in providing the transport service in question.

The decision today entails that Hurtigruten should re-pay any overcompensation received .

A non-confidential version of the Decision will be published in the register of state aid decisions on the Authority's website, normally within a month from the date of the Decision.


For further information, please contact:


Mr Trygve Mellvang-Berg
Press & Information Officer
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 1866
mob: (+32)(0)492 900 187

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