Answer given by Ms Vălean on behalf of the European Commission
The applicable EU legislation stipulates that, apart from exceptional and strictly defined cases, public service contracts (PSC) for rail passenger transport by rail, including regional services, have to be awarded on a competitive basis.
As a transition arrangement and except where prohibited by national law, until 24 December 2023 competent authorities can still directly award a PSC for rail services. Competent authorities for the award of such PSC have to specify public service obligations (PSO), according to the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007.
Member States and their competent authorities can take certain measures in the case of a change of operator as regards staff protection in line with EC law, national law or collective agreement such as, for instance, require a transfer of staff, require public service operators to comply with certain quality and social standards, or establish social and qualitative award criteria.
Regional competent authorities can directly award a PSC to an internal operator, i.e. a public transport operator that they effectively control. They could also directly award a PSC whose size does not exceed certain limits and under other specific conditions where such contract would result in an improvement in the quality of services and/or cost-efficiency.
The EU provides co-funding for investment projects in transport under certain conditions. However, such EU funding cannot cover the provision of transport services.
-  Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on public passenger transport services by rail and by road and repealing Council Regulations (EEC) Nos 1191/69 and 1107/70, OJ L 315 3.12.2007, p. 1.
-  In particular, its Articles 2(e) and 2a.
-  Articles 4(5) and 4(6) of Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007.
-  Article 5(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007.
-  Article 5(4) of Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007.
-  Article 5(4a) of Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007.
-  For instance, funding under the Connecting Europe Facility, the European Regional Development Fund/Cohesion Fund or the Recovery and Resilience Facility.