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On 27 March 2014, the European Commission published its decision on the state aid cases SA.32179 and SA.32953 against Italy. The Commission decided that the free transfer of railway infrastructure from Rete Ferroviaria Italiana SpA (RFI) to Trenitalia SpA (Trenitalia) and FS Logistica SpA (FS Logistica) and the compensation of Trenitalia for public service obligations constituted state-aid within the meaning of Article 107 (1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
Allegations under SA. 32179:
Italy transferred for free railway infrastructure assets from the infrastructure manager, RFI, to two transport companies active on the railway freight transport market, Trenitalia and FS Logistica. Both these companies were part of the incumbent Italian railway company Ferrovie dello Stato.
The following transfers would have been realized: EUR 268.7 million to FS Logistica in 2007, EUR 151.8 million to FS Logistica in 2008, EUR 621 million to Trenitalia in 2009 and EUR 3.2 million to FS Logistica in 2010. No market price valuation would have been carried out with regard to these assets.
Italy considers that these transactions constitute a reallocation of assets, which has to be considered as part of the reorganization of the railway group, which took place in the early 2000s.
Allegations under SA. 32953:
Italy would have compensated the incumbent transport company Trenitalia for public service obligations in freight transportation, since 2000. Three agreements have been signed between the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport and Trenitalia, years after the beginning of the service provided. EUR 1.170 million would have been paid in total to Trenitalia by the State between 2001 and 2010 (available data), compensation which would allegedly exceed the total costs of the service provided.
Italy justifies the entrustment of a public service obligation to Trenitalia with the need to have a universal service provider for freight transportation from/to southern Italy, in order to maintain and strengthen the regional cohesion and territorial balance.
At this stage of the procedure, the Commission considers that the measures at stake qualify as State aid within the meaning of Article 107 (1) of the TFEU and the Commission has not found any relevant argument as regards their compatibility with the internal market yet.
As regards the transfers of assets between companies of the group, the Commission considers that, since these transfers have been realised for free, they constitute State aid to Trenitalia.
As regards the public service compensations, the Commission has doubts on the necessity to impose public service obligations for the transport of freight on a large part of Italy, including international routes. Moreover, on the basis of the available information, it seems that the obligations of Trenitalia are not correctly defined and the company might have benefited from overcompensation.
In accordance with Article 14 of Council Regulation (EC) No 659/1999, all unlawful aid can be subject to recovery from the recipient.
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