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Home > Cruise News Archive > Liverpool Can Keep State Aid for Cruise Terminal, EU Commission Rules
Date Published: March 12, 2014
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Liverpool Can Keep State Aid for Cruise Terminal, EU Commission Rules
pier-head-terminal-liverpool (12:30 p.m. EST) -- Liverpool is entitled to keep £17.8 million in public funding used to build its new cruise terminal, a European Union commission has ruled.

In October 2012, the Liverpool council agreed to pay back £8.8 million of a £9.2 million UK grant awarded by the Department of Transport, after the city began operating turnaround cruises in apparent breach of a fair competition clause in EU trade treaty legislation.

However, the commission found that the public funding complies with state aid rules, and the city has continued to offer turnaround cruises -- which start and end in the same place -- since the UK Transport Minister ruled them legal in May 2012, based on the city's willingness to repay a portion of the grant.

The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “We were confident of our position and are disappointed that the biggest UK cruise liner port felt it necessary to ask the European Commission to investigate, especially as the Port of Southampton has benefitted from public investment in infrastructure which has enabled it to grow to its current position.”

In a statement given to the Liverpool Echo, the EU Commission said it found potential impacts to fair competition would be limited because of Liverpool's small overall market share, in both the EU and UK cruise markets.

"The positive effects of the project will outweigh any potential distortions of competition brought about by the aid," the statement read.

Funding for the new terminal was awarded in 2007, and controversy began when the port of Southampton, which receives no public funding, fought against what it saw as unfair competition.

According to Southampton's Southern Daily Echo, it is unlikely that Liverpool will be able to reclaim the money it has already paid back.

There are more than 40 cruise ships scheduled to call in Liverpool in 2014.

--by Jamey Bergman, UK Production Editor

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