The European Commission has found Polish plans to invest into electric charging and hydrogen-refuelling infrastructure for zero and low emission vehicles to be in line with EU State aid rules. The measure will contribute to reducing CO2 and other pollutant emissions without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market, in line with the Commission's Green Deal objectives.
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “This €173* million Polish scheme will promote alternative fuels and encourage consumers to use greener vehicles, without unduly distorting competition. This will contribute to the reduction of harmful emissions, in line with the European Green Deal's objective.”
The objective of the scheme is to create a comprehensive network of charging infrastructure along both local and trans-European (TEN-T) roads.
The scheme will have a budget of approximately €173 million (PLN 800 million) covering the period from 2021 to 2025. The measure consists of two parts: (i) €151 million (PLN 700 million) will be allocated to investments into recharging stations for electric motor vehicles, with a focus on fast charging stations and charging infrastructure outside of cities; and (ii) €22 million (PLN 100 million) will be allocated to the construction of publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling stations, as part of a pilot project. The objective of the pilot project is to collect market and business data on the hydrogen-fuelled mobility sector in Poland.
Under the scheme, the support will take the form of direct grants and will be capped at 50% of the eligible investment costs. The scheme is open to all economic operators meeting certain standards, for example in terms of inter-operability of the infrastructure. In addition, the applicants will have to meet eligibility criteria relating to the projects' financial and organisational feasibility requirements, including an adequate location for the supported infrastructure. The Commission assessed the measure under EU State aid rules, and in particular Article 107(3)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which allows Member States to support the development of certain economic activities that pursue a common interest, under certain conditions.
The Commission considers that the measure will encourage a significant uptake of zero and low emissions vehicles, thus making a major contribution towards the reduction of CO2 and pollutant emissions, in line with the EU's climate and environmental objectives and the goals set by European Green Deal.
Furthermore, the Commission found that the necessary safeguards limiting the aid to the minimum will be in place. In particular, among others, (i) the applications will be verified through a non-discriminatory, open and transparent procedure; (ii) the maximum amount of aid for a single beneficiary will be limited; and (iii) a significant part of the budget will be made available only for small and medium enterprises.
The Commission concluded that the contribution to EU environmental and climate goals of the scheme outweighs any potential distortion of competition and trade brought about by the support.
On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU State aid rules.
The European Green Deal, presented in December 2019, sets out how to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. To achieve climate neutrality, a 90% reduction in transport emissions is needed by 2050.
The non-confidential version of the decision adopted today will be made available under the case number SA.63718 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.