European Commission Seeks Feedback on Draft Revised State Aid Rules for Land and Multimodal Transport

The European Commission has initiated a public consultation to gather feedback on its proposed draft rules for land and multimodal transport, which intend to replace the existing Guidelines on State aid for railway undertakings and introduce a new Transport Block-Exemption Regulation (TBER). Stakeholders are invited to participate in the consultation until 20 September 2024.

The TBER is designed to complement the new Land and Multimodal Transport Guidelines (LMT Guidelines), which will replace the current Railway Guidelines. The LMT Guidelines outline the criteria for assessing public support to sustainable land transport that is not block-exempted, in conjunction with the TBER, forming a comprehensive framework for State aid in the sustainable land transport sector.

Key features of the proposed changes include expanding the scope of the Guidelines to cover all land transport modes that are less polluting than road-only transport, consolidating and streamlining the Commission’s case practice, providing more flexible rules for aid contributing to the green and digital transitions, and introducing safeguards to support the entry and growth of new operators in the sustainable land transport market.

The new TBER aims to declare certain categories of State aid compatible with the internal market and exempt them from prior notification and approval by the Commission, subject to specific conditions. This simplification will enable Member States to swiftly provide aid where competition distortion is limited, aligning with the Commission’s objective to deliver more efficiently while reducing administrative burdens.

In addition to the ongoing consultation, the draft text of TBER and LMT Guidelines will be further discussed in meetings between the Commission and Member States, ensuring ample opportunities for stakeholders to comment on the proposals. The adoption of the revised Guidelines and the new TBER is targeted for the end of 2025.

The proposals stem from the conclusions of the Fitness Check on the existing rules for the land and multimodal transport sector, which identified the need for adjustments to align with market developments and the EU’s strategic priorities, including the European Green Deal and the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy.

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President in charge of competition policy, emphasised the importance of ensuring that the rules on State aid for land and multimodal transport are suitable for the green and digital transitions and welcomed input from all interested parties.