State aid: Commission approves €1.1 billion German scheme to support rail transport operators using electric traction

© European Union, 2021, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service© European Union, 2021, Source: EC - Audiovisual Service

The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €1.1 billion German scheme to compensate rail transport operators using electric traction in the context of the recent spike in electricity prices. The measure will contribute to ensuring that the rail sector remains competitive while preserving the environmental performance of electric rail, in line with the objectives of the Commission’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and of the European Green Deal.

Under the scheme, the aid will take the form of monthly reductions in the freight and passenger rail transport operators’ electricity bills. Electricity suppliers will then be reimbursed by the German state only for the economic support provided to the rail transport operators. The scheme will cover electricity consumed between 1 January 2023 and 31 December 2023.

The Commission assessed the measure under EU State aid rules, in particular Article 93 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (‘TFEU’) on transport coordination, and the 2008 Guidelines on State aid for railway undertakings. On this basis, the Commission approved the German scheme under EU State aid rules.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “This €1.1 billion scheme will enable Germany to support electric traction, which is a more environmental-friendly mode of rail transport compared to diesel-fuelled vehicles. It will help Germany meet its European Green Deal objectives, while reducing the burden of rising electricity costs for transport operators, to the benefit of passengers and freight customers.”