Fehmarn Belt link approval
By Sandy Guthrie24 July 2015
The public financing model of the Fehmarn Belt fixed rail-road link between Denmark and Germany has been approved by the European Commission, which said it considered it to be in line with EU state aid rules.
EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said, “The Fehmarn Belt fix link will considerably shorten travel times between Germany and the Eastern part of Denmark and the Nordic countries to the benefit of both people and the economy. Therefore, I am very pleased that we have today approved the public financing of the project of under EU state aid rules."
The Fehmarn Belt fixed rail-road link is a key element to complete the main north-south route connecting Central Europe and the Nordic countries.
Denmark’s financing model involves public support for the planning, construction and operation of the rail-road fixed link, and the Danish rail and road connections.
The costs of the entire project are estimated to be DKK64.4 billion (€8.7 billion), part of which is funded by the European Union through the Connecting Europe Facility.
Femern was appointed by the Danish Transport Minister in April 2009 to be in charge of preparation, investigations and planning in relation to the establishment of a fixed link across the Fehmarn Belt.
The Commission said this week that it considered that it was not necessary to conclude whether the public financing measures granted to Femern for the sole purpose of planning, constructing and operating the fixed link constituted state aid within the meaning of the EU rules. This is because they would, in any case, be in line with EU state aid rules since they promoted the execution of an important project of common European interest.
As regards the financing of the on-land road and rail connections in Denmark – the road and rail connections leading to the Fehmarn Belt fixed rail-road link on the Danish side – the Commission found that it involved no state aid within the meaning of the EU rules.
The connections form an integral part of the public transport network in Denmark. It said that the public financing of such general infrastructure was neither liable to distort competition nor to affect trade between Member States.
The Fehmarn Belt fixed rail-road link comprises an immersed undersea tunnel between Rødby on the island of Lolland in Denmark and Puttgarden in Germany, and the corresponding rail and road connections on land. The tunnel will be approximately 19km long and will consist of an electrified, double-track railway and a four-lane motorway with emergency lanes.
The fixed link is due to be open for traffic in 2024.