ANNOUNCEMENT 29 Nov 2010In November 2010, the government of Germany announced a change to private-sector financial support.
NUMBER OF INTERVENTIONS
The Airport is a former Royal Airforce facility for military purposes, shut down in 1999. The same year, the 'Kreis' Kleve and the municipality of Weeze decided to manage the transformation from military airfield to subsequent civilian use. For this purpose the FN GmbH & EEL GmbH were established. FN GmbH was quasi privatized in 2001, while EEL GmbH is the extended arm of the public stakeholders. EEL GmbH provided low interest loans to the FN GmbH (para. 26 b) , with a total amount ofEUR 15 to 30 million. (para. 29), while 'the interest rate for at least one of the loans granted was effectively lowered' (para. 29).
On 29 November 2010, FN GmbH was not in the financial position to reimburse the loans or the interest payments, hence EEL GmbH agreed to rollover all four loans, at this point cumulating to EUR 24 - 40 million (including interest payments). Again, FN receives preferential treatment from EEL GmbH. The new maturity is 31 December 2016.
Furthermore FN GmbH received grants from the Land Nordrhein Westfalen amounting to EUR 3.76 million, to build certain types of infrastructure at the airport site. (para. 40)
Additional grants came from the Kreis Kleve. The second credit tranche has not to be reimbursed due to job creation at the airport. The tranche amounts for an additional EUR 2-5 million.
The European Commission argues that FN GmbH received loans in 2003, 2004, 2005. The EC states that the prolongation of loans in 2010 changes 'the nature of the loans granted in 2003-2005 by increasing the duration of the exposure of EEL GmbH' and therefore 'has to be considered as a new measure'.(para. 63).
Germany justifies the measure by saying that: "according to number 39 of the Community guidelines on financing of airports and start-up aid to airlines departing from regional airports 22 (hereinafter "2005 Aviation Guidelines"), public financing granted to small regional airports (category D) is unlikely to distort competition or affect trade to an extent contrary to the common interest.' (para. 104)
The EC does not share this view and concludes that: 'Regional airports, even in category D ("small regional airports"), compete to attract passengers, airlines and cargo. As mentioned in number 40 of the Aviation Guidelines, it is not possible to exclude airports in category C or D from the scope of application of Article 107 (1) TFEU. The size of Niederrhein Weeze airport and its proximity to other European airports, notably Düsseldorf, Eindhoven, Maastricht, Köln-Bonn, Dortmund, Liege and Antwerp does not allow to consider that trade between Member States is not liable to be affected.' (para. 107, letter from the EC to Germany, 25.01.2012
A state measure in the GTA database is assessed solely in terms of the extent to which its implementation affects the extent of discrimination against foreign commercial interests. On this metric, the state aid proposed here is discriminatory.