State aid: Commission approves public funding to support shift from road to rail in Italy

The European Commission has found that the Italian aid scheme Ferrobonus is in line with EU State aid rules. The measure aims to boost the shift of freight traffic from road to rail, without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. It will have a positive impact on the environment, supporting a mode of transport that is less polluting than road. Furthermore, by decreasing road congestion it will also be beneficial in terms of mobility. For these reasons, EU state aid rules, in particular the 2008 Commission Guidelines on State aid for railway undertakings, allow public support to the rail transport sector under certain conditions. The Commission’s assessment showed that the scheme is open to all operators, both freight forwarders and cargo forwarding customers. It will not distort the level playing field by unduly impacting on maritime transport or inland navigation. In line with the Guidelines, the level of support companies can receive under the scheme is based on reduction in external costs that rail transport allows in comparison to road, i.e. benefits to the public at large. More information will be available in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved, under the case number SA.44627