2020 11 SH And Frb PU
Vi Sejler Videre Fragt

Imagine two runners competing on a 500-metre distance. One runner has a fast, even track ahead, whereas the other must run hurdles. This is the way the company behind the Fehmarn Belt fixed link, Femern A/S, plans the future access road in the harbour in Puttgarden. Crossing roads, sharp curves and traffic lights obstruct the access road to our ferries. The access to the tunnel, on the other hand, is a straight line.

In this case, the competition is between a company acting on behalf of the Danish state, namely Femern A/S, and our privately owned Scandlines.

Femern A/S bases the downgrading of our access road on an assumption that we will cease to operate, once the tunnel is there. However, this is not the case. An independent inquiry concludes that Scandlines maintains a large part of the traffic volume on the Puttgarden-Rødby route and has a strong adaptability in competition with a fixed link.

In another matter, we also fight for equal conditions of competition – namely regarding the EU Commission’s approval of state aid for the fixed link.

The fight for equal competition - timeline

Since the 2010’s, Scandlines has sought dialogue about equal competition between the state-supported tunnel and our privately owned ferries on the Fehmarn Belt. We consider equal access roads to the two options for crossing the belt to be a basic right. However, instead of coming to a solution through dialogue, the matter has ended in the courts.

You can follow the process in the timeline:

  • In January 2021, Femern A/S and the Danish state officially initiate the tunnel construction work at the Danish end of the tunnel.

  • The German Federal Administrative Court declares the approval of the Fehmarn tunnel as lawful after legal proceedings of among others Scandlines’ complaints against the approval. A number of Scandlines’ complaints are met – e.g. better safety at sea during the construction period. However, a crucial part of Scandlines’ complaint is not resolved: the degradation of the access road to our ferries in Puttgarden.

  • After an in-depth investigation of the financing granted by the Danish state to the Fehmarn Belt project, the EU Commission concludes that this constitutes state aid – as maintained by Scandlines throughout the procedure. The EU Commission limits the state aid to the Fehmarn project economically and cuts the state aid period from 55 years to 16 years.

  • In January 2019, the authorities in the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein issue the plan approval e for the Fehmarn tunnel. In May, Scandlines files a complaint against the lawfulness of the approval at the German Federal Administrative Court. A crucial point in the complaint is that the planning still does not secure equal access roads to tunnel and ferries in Puttgarden. Quite the opposite: The plans considerably degrade the access to the ferries.

  • The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) cancels the approval of the financing model for the Fehmarn tunnel, which the EU Commission forced through in 2015. The CJEU directs the EU Commission to open a real state aid case and complete proper legal processing and assessment of the case.

  • In June and July 2017, the second round of public hearings in the German approval process concerning the future tunnel takes place. In the first round I 2015, 3,000 objections were submitted. In the second round in 2017, the number reaches 12,600. After this second round, there is still no satisfactory solution for the access road to our ferries in Puttgarden. It remains degraded.

  • Scandlines appeals to the European Court of Justice for annulment of the EU Commission’s vaguely founded and inadequate approval of the financing model for the Fehmarn project. Scandlines founds the appeal on, among other things, the fact that the Commission has approved at least 55 years of state aid, which is a period long enough to effectively ensure unlimited state aid.

  • At this first German public hearing, 3,000 objections have been submitted.

  • Through dialogue between politicians and Scandlines, the initially planned access to the harbour in Rødbyhavn, which was a degradation of the present access, is changed into an acceptable solution.

  • The European Commission presses through an approval of the financing model for the Fehmarn project without opening a formal procedure and without involving or warning the complainants – among these Scandlines.

  • The Danish parliament passes the construction act for the Fehmarn Belt fixed link and ratifies the state treaty with Germany.

  • Femern A/S submits the application for plan approval of the Fehmarn project in Germany.

  • Among the 42 objections on the Danish side was Scandlines’ objection to the planned access to the harbour in Rødbyhavn – a plan that degrades the motorway to a main road.

  • At the meeting, Scandlines stresses that the ferries will keep operating and that Femern A/S must consider this when planning. Femern A/S assumes that Scandlines will cease the ferry operation on the Fehmarn Belt and thus degrades the access road to our ferries.

  • Germany and Denmark sign the state treaty to build a fixed link between the two countries going from Puttgarden on the German island of Fehmarn to Rødby on the Danish island of Lolland. The plan is that the connection will open in 2018.

  • The German and Danish governments sign a declaration of intent to build a fixed link between the two countries.

We consider equal access roads to the two options for crossing the belt to be a basic right.