The Commission adopted a decision initiating a procedure with regard to the financing of RATP's pensions. The Commission investigation concerns whether a reorganisation of that financing, launched in January 2006, is compatible with the Community rules on monitoring state aid. The decision adopted today will enable stakeholders and public-transport firms to comment on the Commission's preliminary analysis. In particular, the Commission wishes to carry out a more detailed assessment of the impact which the reorganisation has had, and could have in future, on RATP's competitive position.

RATP is a public-transport firm operating inter alia in Île-de-France. Historically, the company's employees were members of a pension scheme which was different from the general scheme applicable to private-law employees. The financing of that scheme was RATP's responsibility and was in part assisted by the state. The existing pension scheme also provides that employees will acquire "specific" rights which go beyond the "basic" rights provided for by the general scheme.

In January 2006 the French authorities began reorganising the financing of this pension system. As part of the reorganisation, management of the "basic" rights would be backed by the common-law social security bodies CNAV and AGIRC-ARRCO. Management of the "specific" rights, provided for by RATP's staff rules, would remain the responsibility of a fund set up for that purpose in January 2006: "Caisse Autonome des Retraites de la RATP (CAR)". The state plans to make the necessary payments in order to guarantee, in accordance with French legislation, that the operation is carried out under financially neutral conditions for CNAV and AGIRC-ARRCO, and to assume the responsibility of creditor of last resort for CAR.

After a preliminary investigation the Commission concluded that this reorganisation could involve RATP receiving state aid and that, if necessary, this should be assessed for compatibility with the Community rules. Consequently, the Commission decided today to examine this reorganisation in greater depth.

The Commission will invite all stakeholders, including RATP's competitors, to make known their views, both on the planned reorganisation's competitive effects and on its contribution to the common interest.

Initiating a formal investigation procedure is a procedural step in monitoring state aid. It is without prejudice to the conclusions which the Commission will draw from its investigation. The measures in respect of which it has been decided to initiate the procedure were notified by France on 29 June 2006 and some of them, in particular setting up CAR, were implemented from January 2006 onwards. [10 October 07]