Following a complaint alleging that contracts concluded by the Czech authorities providing public transport compensations to bus carriers in Southern Moravia involve illegal State aid, the European Commission has today decided to formally open an investigation procedure. The Commission at this stage cannot exclude that the contracts in question indeed involve State aid, which however may be compatible in that they may not involve overcompensation. Today's decision will give all stakeholders an opportunity to comment before the Commission takes a final view on this case.
The case concerns public service contracts on bus transport in the district of Znojmo in Southern Moravia. The Commission has received formal complaints that these contracts may involve State aid.
At this stage, the Commission cannot exclude that the public service compensations associated with the contracts may not fulfil all the criteria laid down by the Altmark jurisprudence, notably it does not have enough information to safely conclude that the compensation paid has been determined via a competitive tender or reflects the costs of a well-run operator. Therefore, it cannot be excluded that remunerations for transport operators involved in the contracts in question entail State aid in the meaning of Art. 87 (1) of the EC Treaty.
Before being able to conclude with certainty that the aid is compatible with the Treaty rules, notably in the light of the fact the contract do not seem to involve overcompensation, the Commission wishes to give all interested parties an opportunity to comment on its preliminary conclusions.
The opening of a formal investigation procedure does not prejudge the outcome of the Commission's investigation. [15 January 2008]