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Parliamentary questions
6 April 2009
WRITTEN QUESTION by Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert (ALDE) and Corien Wortmann-Kool (PPE‑DE) to the Commission

 Subject: State aid for ports

It is common knowledge that there are (major) differences among the EU Member States when it comes to arrangements for funding (maritime) ports and passing on costs to users. This serves both to distort free competition between ports and to create legal uncertainty. The Commission has already acknowledged these problems in documents such as:

the Green Paper on ports and maritime infrastructure;
the two ‘port packages’ and the related working documents and communications;
the communication on a European port policy (COM(2007)0616).

In the last-named communication the Commission states its intention of laying down guidelines governing the provision of state aid to ports — in 2008! The Commission confirmed that intention orally at various official meetings and Parliament also called on it repeatedly to draw up guidelines before the end of 2008. Thus far, however, those calls have fallen on deaf ears. In the meantime, a variety of financing arrangements for maritime port development have been approved, even though no overall policy approach has yet been laid down.

It is clear that, at a time when public investment is being encouraged as a means of maintaining overall investment levels, there is an urgent need for a clearer, formally agreed interpretation of the Treaty provisions governing the provision of state aid to ports. The creation of an entirely level playing field is the only way to maintain the trend towards purely profit-driven port development and guarantee the quality and efficiency of the services provided in ports.

1. Does the Commission share our view that a genuinely successful Community port policy is inconceivable unless the situation regarding the provision of state aid to ports is clarified quickly? If not, why not?

2. Can the Commission say precisely when the guidelines governing the provision of state aid to ports, to which it has repeatedly referred, will be drawn up and published? If not, why not?

Original language of question: NLOJ C 189, 13/07/2010
Last updated: 5 May 2009Legal notice