The European Commission has approved 250 million kuna (€34 million) in subsidies to ensure regular ferry connections on five routes between Croatian islands and the mainland.
"For citizens living on Croatian islands, a connection to the mainland is essential. So I'm happy that we are approving public support for ferry connections ensuring the link between five Croatian islands and the rest of Croatia not only during the peak tourist season in the summer, but throughout the year," said Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition.
Under EU state aid rules, the Commission has approved Croatia’s plan to grant public service compensation for the operation of five ferry routes serving passengers and vehicles between: Preko on the Island of Ugljan, the Island of Osljak and Zadar/Gazenica on the mainland; Tkon on the Island of Pasman and Biograd on the mainland; Sucuraj on the Island of Hvar and Drvenik on the mainland; and Stari Grad on the Island of Hvar and Split on the mainland.
Public support will be granted to maritime companies, which will be selected through public tenders organised by the Agency for Coastal Lines and Maritime Traffic. The overall budget for the public service compensation is 249.2 million kuna (€33.8 million), which will cover the difference between revenues from ferry tickets and the cost of operating the ferries regularly.
This will allow the islands' inhabitants to commute daily to work or study, as well as to transport vehicles and supplies to and from the islands.
The Commission found that the state aid will contribute to the connectivity and to the social and economic development of the islands. The aid is necessary to ensure operation of the routes with adequate frequencies over the whole year, since ticket revenues exceed the cost of the ferry operations only during the summer peak season, the Commission said.
They added that public funding will contribute to the connectivity and development of the islands without unduly distorting competition in the single market.
(€1 = 7.39 kuna)