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EU Gives Green Light to €687 Million Italian Scheme to Compensate Commercial Rail Passenger Operators

Under EU state aid rules, the European Commission has approved a €687 million support for Italy to compensate commercial long-distance rail passenger service providers for damage incurred between July 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021, due to the pandemic and restrictive measures that Italy had to implemented to limit the spread of the virus.

In a press release on March 2, Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, who is responsible for competition policy, indicated that this €687 million would help Italy compensate long-distance rail operators on commercial lines for the damage caused. for COVID-19 restrictions.

He noted that “we continue to work closely with Italy and all other member states to ensure that national measures to support all sectors affected by the crisis, including the railway sector, can be implemented as quickly as possible, in line with EU rules” in this regard.

According to the Commission, since the beginning of the epidemic, the Italian government has begun to impose a series of measures against the spread of the virus, including, in particular, a mandatory reservation system for scalable places that reduces available places by 50 percent, strict restrictions on business meetings in person and trips Business and event cancellations, TheSchengen.com reports.

All these restrictions severely affected the mobility of physical categories of passengers, such as business and leisure travelers, who are important in long-distance train business.

The situation worsened further between the end of December 2020 and April 2021, when the government imposed a nationwide ban on inter-provincial travel.

It was also revealed that the number of passengers between July 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021 decreased by up to 90 percent compared to 2019, which led to a significant decrease in the revenues of passenger railway service providers.

The announced scheme of €687 million shows that eligible beneficiaries will be entitled to compensation in the form of direct grants for damages incurred during this period.

This action follows a scheme similar to the scheme approved by the commission on March 10, 2021, which aims to compensate commercial rail operators for damages suffered between March 8 and June 30, 2020.

The Commission has taken this action under Article 107(2)(b) TFEU, which enables the adoption of State assistance measures granted by Member States to compensate certain companies or sectors for damages caused by exceptional events.

The Commission has found that the Italian aid plan will offset the damages directly linked to the coronavirus pandemic. The statement also finds that the action is proportionate, as the compensation envisaged does not go beyond what is necessary to repair the damage.”

Moreover, the Commission has assessed the coronavirus pandemic as an unusual phenomenon that significantly affects the economy.

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Source: schengenvisainfo.com

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