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State Aid

PR(07)55: The Authority authorizes state aid granted to Hurtigruten for increased social security costs in 2004

12.12.2007

In 2004, two Norwegian ferry companies, the so-called Hurtigruten companies, faced higher social security charges as a result of increased tax rates enacted by the Norwegian Parliament. These increased costs were compensated by a special allocation on the State Budget.

In the view of the Authority, the compensation appeared to exceed what was necessary to cover the increased costs of the companies to carry out the public service obligation they were entrusted with (daily stops all year round in 34 harbours along the Norwegian coast). Therefore, the Authority decided to open the formal investigation with regard to the compensation.

After having investigated the case, the Authority has yesterday concluded that the aid is compatible with the EEA Agreement.

This assessment is based on specific state aid rules for shipping companies. Maritime transport is a sector experiencing fierce international competition. Furthermore, shipping companies have the possibility to flag vessels out of the EEA. Against this background, the Authority’s Guidelines on Maritime Transport provide, amongst others, for partial or full reimbursement to shipping companies of their costs related to social security contributions.

The Authority has come to the conclusion that these rules can be applied to the compensation paid to the Hurtigruten companies.

For further information, please contact:

Mr Amund Utne
Director, Competition and State Aid Directorate
Tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 50; or

Ms Marie Wiersholm
Officer, Competition and State Aid Directorate
Tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 65

13 December 2007




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