Commission opens in-depth State aid investigation into French compensation to maritime transport companies

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the public service compensation granted to Corsica Linea and La Méridionale for the provision of maritime transport services to Corsica between 2023 and 2030 is in line with EU State aid rules.

The Commission's investigation

In December 2022, France awarded to Corsica Linea and La Méridionale (individually, or jointly as Groupement Corsica Linea-La Méridionale) five contracts for the provision of maritime transport services for passengers and freight between Marseille and five Corsican ports (Ajaccio, Bastia, Propriano, L'Île Rousse and Porto-Vecchio) for the period 2023-2030. France notified the Commission compensation to Corsica Linea and La Méridionale of €853,6 million for the provision of these services.

At this stage, based on its preliminary assessment, the Commission considers that additional information is necessary to determine whether the public compensation paid to Corsica Linea and La Méridionale is in line with EU State aid rules, and in particular with the 2012 Service of General Economic Interest (‘SGEI') Framework.

For this reason, the Commission has decided to open an in-depth investigation to assess whether:

  • The inclusion of transport of towed freight and truck drivers in the contracts is justified by a public service need, given the presence on the market of a commercial offer developed from the neighboring port.
  • The volume of freight traffic to be transported pursuant to the contracts does not exceed the public service need identified by the French authorities.

In addition, additional clarifications are needed to conclude that the contracts comply with EU rules on public procurement.

The Commission will now investigate further. The opening of the in-depth investigation gives France and other interested parties the opportunity to submit their comments. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.


Under the EU State aid rules on public service compensation,  companies can be compensated for the extra cost of providing a public service, subject to certain criteria. This enables Member States to grant State aid for the provision of public services whilst, at the same time, making sure that companies entrusted with such services are not overcompensated. This minimises distortions of competition and ensures an efficient use of public resources.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.101557 in the State aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of State aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the Competition Weekly e-News.