The development of the port sector in the European Union has been depending on public sector interventions, especially as regards management control and financial support mechanisms in many European ports. At the same time, competition among the EU ports has been growing which has lead to the fact that public interventions are partly responsible for a distortion of competition. Against this background, the study ‘Public financing and charging practices of seaports in the EU’ was commissioned by DG TREN in order to gain information on one hand about financial flows from public purse into the port sector and on the other hand about financial flows back from the port sector to the state in terms of charges for 19 EU Member States. Hereby, the following financial relations have been regarded as state aids:
- Compensation for operating losses
- Provision of capital
- Non-refundable grants, or loans on privileged terms
- Foregoing of profits or forgoing the recovery of sums due
- Foregoing of a normal return on public funds used
- Compensation for financial burdens imposed by the government authorities
Additionally, real flows in terms of investments and charging for one year were taken up for 30 EU ports in order to give a survey about the practice of the financing and charging systems.