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State Aid

State Aid: Hurtigruten under scrutiny for state aid violations

9.12.2015

PR(15)60

EN | NO

Today, the EFTA Surveillance Authority opened a formal investigation into potential unlawful state aid granted to the Norwegian ferry company Hurtigruten operating the Bergen–Kirkenes route.

Mr. Sven Erik Svedman, president of the Authority, stated: «The Authority has decided to open an in-depth investigation in order to clarify whether Hurtigruten has received any over-compensation which goes against the state aid rules of the EEA Agreement. The Authority also investigates whether Hurtigruten ensures that everyone has access to the public service.»

The case concerns public service compensation granted to Hurtigruten under the Coastal Agreement for the period 2012–2019, following a tender procedure. Hurtigruten receives compensation in order to perform daily sailings throughout the year with calls at 34 ports between Bergen and Kirkenes included.

The Authority started looking into the matter after receiving two complaints, alleging among other things that Hurtigruten has been awarded substantially higher compensation than in the previous contract period; and that Hurtigruten sells capacity allocated for public service passengers to cruise passengers while maintaining the compensation at the same level. The complainants also allege that Hurtigruten fails to serve all ports to the extent required.

The EEA Agreement permits public service compensation to be granted for well-defined services of general economic interest, provided that it covers only the cost of the services, including a reasonable profit for the providers. At this stage, however, the Authority cannot exclude that the Coastal Agreement entails an over-compensation of Hurtigruten in violation of those rules.

This opening decision is without prejudice to the final decision of the Authority. The Authority will now call for further comments from the Norwegian authorities and third parties with an interest in the case.

 

More information

 

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Andreas Kjeldsberg Pihl
Press & Information Officer
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 66
mob. (+32)(0)492 900 187





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