Rail transport and coronavirus. The Commission approves the new German State aids

In accordance with the European State aid rules as well as the temporary framework to support the economy and to ensure businesses sufficient liquidity to preserve the continuity of their economic activity during the coronavirusoutbreak, on 27 July 2022 the Commission approved the €215 million supplied by the German government in favour of Deutsche Bahn AG (“Deutsche Bahn”).

Due to the limitations introduced by the German government such as, amongst the others, the general prohibition to travel across regions and the mandatory staggered seating reservation system, Deutsche Bahn’s subsidiaries DB Netz AGDB Energie GmbH and DB Station&Service AG had to face a drop in the demand for their rail infrastructure services as well as a decline of their revenues. In the form of an equity injection, therefore, the aid aims at compensating those companies for the damages suffered due to the pandemic and the related enforcement measures between 16 March and 31 May 2020.

According to the Commission, the measure is in line with the European State aid rules inasmuch as, being an extraordinary, unforeseeable event having significant economic impact, the coronavirus outbreak qualifies as such an exceptional occurrence under Article 107(2)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Such a measure, furthermore, is proportionate, given that no company will receive more in compensation than the damages suffered.

Marco Stillo