Following the Altmark judgement of the European Court of Justice in July 2003 (see EMTA News nÂ° 14), and the Green Paper on Services of General Interest, the Commission (DG Competition) has started consultations to set out clear criteria for the assessment of compensations paid by Member States to undertakings providing services of general interest.
The first proposal consists in exempting small scale public funding from the obligation of prior notification to the Commission. The funding of public services provided by hospitals and social housing would also be exempt from notification, irrespective of the amounts involved, like compensation payments for maritime transport to islands (when annual traffic does not exceed 100,000 passengers).
Another key proposal concerns the definition of criteria for the larger scale compensation payments, which remain subject to the obligation of prior notification. In this case, if a compensation scheme does not comply with the “Altmark” criteria, the payments must not over-compensate the cost of providing public interest services.
These proposals will now be discussed by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.