Brussels approves first motorway of the sea.
BRUSSELS has approved a ?34m ($48m) subsidy package for a new ferry freight service between France and Spain.
The two governments will each contribute ?15m to the joint venture run by Italy"s Grimaldi Naples and Louis Dreyfus Armateurs of France. The the EU"s Marco Polo subsidy programme will inject ?4m.
This is the first serious attempt to bankroll a new ferry service with taxpayer money under the so-called motorways of the sea scheme.
According to the commission, the project ?intends to capture between 3% and 5% of the road traffic passing through the western part of the Pyrenees?. It is expected to reduce road traffic by around 40,000 trucks a year, a figure ?that is expected to double in five years?.
Financing will be limited to 35% of eligible costs, the commission said, adding that the impact of the new service on competition would be ?limited?. It is expected to launch in March.
In other news, the International Mobile Satellite Organisation is next month due to complete its technical assessment of the EU"s bid to host the long-range identification and tracking system.
The final decision on the location of the system"s international data exchange is due to be decided by the International Maritime Organization in May.
The EU bid is however favourite, as it is the only bid. The system is currently hosted by the US.
The LRIT system tracks ship positions and identities. It was set up in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the US.