State aid: the Commission starts an investigation on the public funding granted to the Port Authority of Naples

The European Commission has started an in-depth investigation to check whether the subsidies of EUR 44 million that Italy has granted to the Port Authority of Naples are compatible with the European rules on state aid.

The grants were used by the Port Authority of Naples to renovate the dry-docks rented out to Cantieri del Mediterraneo (CAMED), a ship building and ship repair company, on the basis of a 30-year concession. The Commission finds that CAMED, as well as the Port Authority, may have benefited from the subsidies because of the concession agreement. In the absence of a tender for the use of dry-docks, CAMED may use the renovated facilities to offer ship repair activities for a price potentially below market rates, giving both the Port Authority and CAMED an economic advantage over their competitors. Consequently, the Commission believes that this public funding may constitute State aid within the meaning of European rules.

A State aid may be considered compatible with the European state aid rules if it promotes an objective of common interest. However, the Commission has doubts that the ship repair service can qualify as a service of general economic interest (SGEI).