Portuguese railways: Commission opens in-depth investigation on State aids granted to the railway maintenance company EMEF

In 2015 the European Commission received a complaint alleging that over the years EMEF continuously received illegal financial support from its parent company, Comboios de Portugal (CP), the State–owned Portuguese passenger rail operator. According to the complaint and information received from Portugal, EMEF, which has been loss-making since 2005, received support worth around €90 million from CP in the form of capital increases, loans and guarantees.

At this stage, the Commission has concerns that the measures in favor of EMEF were not granted at market conditions and may therefore have given EMEF a selective advantage over its competitors. EU State aid rules only allow public support to companies in financial difficulty under specific conditions requiring in particular that the company is subject to a sound restructuring plan, which would allow it to return to viability in the long-term without continued State support and unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.

The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested third parties an opportunity to comment on the measures under assessment.