Antwerp Cleared of State Aid Misconduct
The European Commission has ruled that deals agreed by the state-owned Port of Antwerp, and two container terminals operating at the port, did not involve state aid, according to Reuters.
In 2004, the port finalised 42-year concession agreements with terminal operators PSA Antwerp NV and Antwerp Gateway NV.
Like other concessions awarded to terminal operators, the contracts in question required a minimum quantity of containers to be handled each year.
Between 2009 and 2012, both operators failed to reach the yearly requirement and would have been expected to compensate the port for missing their targets.
Alex Bäcker discusses the Port of Antwerp's virtual queueing innovation in a recent Port Technology technical paper
Following the revision of these minimum requirements in 2013, the compensation owed by PSA Antwerp NV and Antwerp Gateway NV was reduced by 80%.
In 2016, the EU Commission opened an investigation after a complaint was received from a competitor of the Port of Antwerp.
The review ultimately discovered that the port had acted in the same way as a private operator.
Because of an economic crisis, and given that the two terminal operators were still in a start-up phase, an adjustment of the compensation was justified.