State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into alleged aid to two container terminal operators in Port of Antwerp, Belgium

The European Commission has opened an in-depth inquiry into whether reductions in compensation payments granted by the Port of Antwerp to two container terminal operators gave them an undue advantage over competitors, in breach of EU state aid rules.Between 2009 and 2012, the two operators PSA Antwerp NV and Antwerp Gateway NV did not reach minimum tonnage requirements specified in their concession agreements. As a result, they were obliged to pay compensation to the Antwerp Port Authority. However, instead of collecting the compensation due from the two companies, the Authority retroactively revised the minimum tonnage requirements downwards. The Commission will now examine further whether a private investor would have accepted to reduce its compensation in a similar manner. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested third parties the opportunity to submit comments on the measures under assessment. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. The full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE and NL. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel. +32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)