Fehmarnbelt: ECJ confirms ruling on state aid

Luxembourg (dpa) – Next stage in the legal dispute about the planned Baltic Sea tunnel between Schleswig-Holstein and Denmark: The European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Wednesday confirmed a ruling by the EU court on Danish state aid for the billion-dollar project in the Fehmarnbelt.

The verdict of 2018 states that the EU Commission has not checked carefully enough whether the aid is legal. Objections to this judgment were dismissed on Wednesday, as the ECJ announced in Luxembourg (cases C – 174 / 19 and C – 175 / 19).

Specifically, the ECJ rejected both the ferry operators’ appeals Parts of the judgment at that time as well as the objections of the commission. The Danish construction company Femern A / S and the State of Schleswig-Holstein rated the decision as a positive step on the way to realizing the major project. The preparatory work for the planned Baltic Sea tunnel continues, the legal dispute will be continued in a further procedure Denmark sued promised state aid and criticized a distortion of competition. The lawsuit was directed against the EU Commission, which 2015 did not intervene. The EU court gave the shipping companies 2018 the right on important points The result of this examination was again sued. A decision in this proceeding is still pending. The dispute could drag on for years.

Essentially, it is about two decisions by the EU Commission. They concerned the support for road and rail connections in Denmark, the hinterland connection, and for the so-called fixed connection, the train and car tunnel between the German Puttgarden and the Danish Rødby.

A Scandlines spokeswoman said the German press agency, the decision was as expected. The focus of Scandlines is now on the approval of the EU Commission of 2020, which was initially challenged by the Danish state and then by Stena Line and Scandlines.

That Danish Ministry of Transport initially did not comment on the judgment when asked. A spokeswoman for the construction company Femern A / S told the dpa, “We are pleased that the lawsuit was dismissed as unfounded.”

Schleswig-Holstein’s Secretary of State for Transport, Thilo Rohlfs, spoke of good news. “This means that another hurdle has been overcome on the Danish side on the way to the fixed Fehmarnbelt link.” This is an important sign for the major project. “This brings us a little closer to this important trans-European connection.”

According to Femern A / S, there are currently around 60 workboats in the Fehmarnbelt in action. On the Danish side, work began on digging the 18 kilometer-long tunnel trench at the beginning of July. This work is now also in progress on the German side.

The road and rail tunnel is expected to connect the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn with the Danish island of Lolland as a fixed Fehmarnbelt link from 2029. Denmark alone has to pay for the construction costs of an estimated 7.1 billion euros. Germany bears the costs for the road and rail connection on the German side of an estimated 3.5 billion euros.

According to Femern A / S, the so-called work harbor at Rødbyhavn on Lolland should be ready by the end of the year be. According to Femern A / S, the future entrance to the tunnel can already be seen on the Danish side. The excavation pit has been dug there and the shell is being prepared for the portal building. Work on the factory in which the individual elements of the so-called immersed tunnel are to be manufactured is therefore already in progress. The first segment is to be moved 2024.

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