Mon. Feb 6th, 2023

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to reassess whether the shipping company Fred Olsen received incompatible State aid from the Canary Islands port authority, “Puertos de Canarias”, after the General Court annulled the Commission’s initial decision of December 2015.

Following a complaint by Fred Olsen’s competitor Naviera Armas, the Commission in 2015 had concluded that the conditions of use of the publicly financed port infrastructure in Puerto de las Nieves (Gran Canaria) did not constitute State aid in favour of Fred Olsen. Naviera Armas challenged this decision and the General Court partly annulled it in March 2018, insofar the Commission had found that the measures did not involve aid without opening an in-depth investigation. In light of the judgment, the Commission will now re-assess in particular whether Puertos de Canarias charged Fred Olsen a sufficient price for its de facto exclusive use of the Puerto de las Nieves port infrastructure.

Fred Olsen was the first commercial shipping company to apply for and receive an authorisation to use Puerto de las Nieves for commercial transport.  The company has operated a ferry connection between Puerto de las Nieves and Tenerife since 1994. Due to the very limited size of the port, with only one docking place, Puertos de Canarias has refused requests from other shipping companies to use the infrastructure based on safety reasons. The opening of an in-depth investigation provides Spain and any interested third party with the opportunity to submit comments. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.36628 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of State aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the Competition Weekly e-News.

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