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Airports, regions & MEPs urge European Commission to revise proposed new State Aid rules

19-Sep-2013 2:36 PM

ACI EUROPE, in cooperation with Franck Proust MEP (EEP, South West France) and Union des Aéroports Français (UAF) held (18-Sep-2013) a joint-hearing in the European Parliament on the European Commission’s (EC) proposals for revised State Aid Guidelines in the aviation sector. ACI EUROPE stated that "with these new proposed guidelines, the EC is explicitly seeking to curb the public financing of airport infrastructure across Europe", adding: "National, regional & local authorities would therefore have to comply with more restrictive rules limiting their ability to invest in the development of new or existing airport infrastructure (investment aid) as well as in the financing of day-to-day operations of smaller airports (operating aid)". In his address to the hearing, Franck Proust MEP said “What is being proposed is too damaging for us to stay quiet, especially when the very future of hundreds of communities and thousands of jobs is at stake. At grassroots level, I see our citizens and economic players want to know if the projects they have succeeded in growing over the years – with many positive externalities in their localities – are suddenly going to be brought to a halt by this.” He added: “Economic renewal, growth and social cohesion are absolute priorities for Europe right now. Airports cannot be treated just as financial undertakings, their role as essential public infrastructure also needs to be respected. Competition policy should be at the service of economic development and growth, not the other way around.” It was also claimed that the proposed new guidelines do not reflect the economic fundamentals of small regional airports. Addressing the hearing, ACI EUROPE director general Olivier Jankovec said: “If these rules are adopted they will reduce connectivity across Europe, with dire consequences for regional communities. Today, airports are businesses but they are also strategic assets driving economic growth and jobs. If you close down an airport, you severely cripple its community. Clearly, the EC has not struck the right balance – what they are proposing is at odds with their own Growth & Jobs agenda for Europe. These rules need to be revised.”  [more - original PR]