Stena Line to Challenge Commission’s Decision on Femern Undersea Tunnel

Stena Line considers the European Commission’s tacit approval of public financing of the Fehmarn Belt fixed rail-road link between Denmark and Germany discriminatory and not in line with EU State aid rules.

Consequently, Stena Line will await the publication of the full decision and consider to appeal the Decision.

Stena Line is a provider of maritime transport links between mainland Europe and the Scandinavian Peninsula. “The existence of 9 ferry routes between 14 different ports is based on established interconnectivity needs and fair competition. The market is more than adequately served by these ferry routes. All the State’s involvement achieves is an extra 8 billion € cost for the taxpayers. A fixed undersea tunnel link between Rødby and Puttgarden supported by unjustified State aid creates an un-level playing field and distorts competition with the well-functioning ferry services which have been provided for many years. It also goes against the principle of shifting transport away from road,” says Carl-Johan Hagman, CEO Stena Line.

Stena Line notes that the Commission’s Press Release does not confirm whether the payment of State aid has taken place, but simply states that ‘if State aid is involved, the aid can be approved’.

In addition to the above, the Commission does not seem to have prescribed a time frame for the State aid, Stena Line wrote. “The idea of open-ended State aid without time limits, for a project of this magnitude, simply makes no sense. This provides the operators of the tunnel with the ability to use the State aid to dump their State-subsidised prices, thereby squeezing out competitors such as ferry operators,” Hagman said.

Stena Line awaits the publication of the full Decision and will consider to challenge the Decision before the Union courts in Luxembourg, the company added.