Belgium, German post ordered to pay back state aid
(BRUSSELS) - The postal services of Belgium and Germany, Bpost and Deutsche Post, were ordered by the European Commission on Wednesday to pay back hundreds of millions of euros of state subsidies deemed unfair.
The decisions by the Commission's anti-trust officials follow moves to fully open up the postal market to competition by the end of this year.
After investigating whether state subsidies distorted the market in Belgium, France, Germany and Greece, the Commission ordered the German government to recover "incompatible aid" in the range of 500 million to one billion euros.
This resulted from what it said was a combination of highly regulated prices and pension relief subsidies. "The aid placed Deutsche Post in a better position than its competitors," a statement said.
Belgium was ordered to recover 417 million euros of aid sent to Bpost between 1992 and 2010 for its public service mission.
"Our ultimate aim is to prevent distortion of competition which would hinder citizens and businesses from enjoying the benefits of full market opening," said Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia.
He said full liberalisation of the postal market across the European Union would be complete by year's end, with 11 nations yet to achieve the goal.
The Commission however approved state aid to France's La Poste as well as subsidies paid out to Hellenic Post (ELTA) by the Greek government.
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