EU greenlights €500m Italian scheme for switch to cleaner maritime vessels

It will support projects that increase the energy efficiency and environmental performance of vessels used for passenger, freight and combined transport

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A €500 million (£438m) Italian scheme to help companies in the maritime transport sector to buy clean and zero-emission vessels as well as retrofit more polluting ones has been granted approval by the European Commission.

The scheme, funded through Italy’s Complementary Fund, is aimed at encouraging shipping companies to replace existing vessels with low environmental performance and reduce the use of fossil-based fuels in the maritime transport sector.

It will support projects that increase the energy efficiency and environmental performance of vessels used for passenger, freight and combined transport, as well as those operating in Italian ports.

The aid will allow vessels to use or increase the use of biofuels and synthetic fuels, in addition or as an alternative to fossil fuels, as well as wind propulsion as an alternative to other propulsion systems.

The scheme is open to shipping companies registered in Italy that provide maritime transport connections between an Italian port and European and Mediterranean ports, or operate within Italian ports.

The maximum aid amount per beneficiary is 40% of the eligible costs, which may be increased up to 60% for SMEs and up to 45% for projects related to zero-emission vessels.

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President in charge of competition policy said: “The €500 million scheme approved today will help companies operating in the Italian maritime transport sector to reduce harmful emissions and achieve greater energy efficiency in line with the European Green Deal objectives. At the same time, the scheme ensures that any potential competition distortions are kept to the minimum.”