EU to investigate public financing of Fehmarn Belt, Denmark’s tunnel to Germany

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into whether the public financing model of the Fehmarn Belt fixed rail-road link is in line with EU state aid rules.

In 2015 the Commission approved the scheme, but in December 2018 the EU General Court annulled that approval after an appeal from ferry companies Scandlines and Stena Lines.

The €7.4bn Fehmarn Belt includes an undersea tunnel between Rødby on the Danish island of Lolland and Puttgarden in Germany. The tunnel will be around 19km long and consist of an electrified, double-track railway and a four-lane motorway.

Denmark will own and bear the full risk for financing the tunnel. In March the Danish parliament voted to proceed with the scheme.

The European Investment Bank has agreed a €200m loan to help finance it. (See Further reading.)

In 2016, a consortium including French group Vinci and the Netherlands’ BAM was chosen as preferred bidder to build the tunnel. 

Announcing the investigation, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: "The Commission previously approved support measures for the financing of the link in 2015, but the Court annulled this decision, finding that the Commission should have opened an in-depth investigation.

"Today’s opening of such an investigation is an invitation for all stakeholders to provide their input, which will allow the Commission to adopt a new, well-informed final decision."  

Image: Visualisation of the Fehmarn Belt undersea tunnel (Femern Landanlaeg)

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  1. Once again the EU interferes with countries businesses just shows what they are really like

  2. Instead of building such a massive submerged tunnel, a project that would take such a long time and so expensive to complete, they should just build a bridge-tunnel near the west edge of the Fehmarnbelt, where the water is shallower enough for a bridge-tunnel just like the Øresund Bridge-Tunnel. Such a bridge-tunnel could be built and comlleted in such a shorter time and at such a lower cost. Such a lower cost and in such a short time, that even such a bridge-tunnel consisting of not only a railway, but also traffic lanes, could be built and completed in a shorter time and at a lower cost than a railway only submerged tunnel. And the tunnel portions of a bridge-tunnel would of course allow ships however tall to enter through the Fehmarnbelt.

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