The European Commission has authorized Spain this Wednesday to allocate 20 million of European Next Generation funds to support the establishment of intelligent systems that facilitate better communication and information services on motorways and tunnels of the state road network.
Brussels has reached the conclusion that this investment will improve road safety in Spain and will contribute to making road traffic more sustainable thanks to the establishment and improvement of advanced digital technologies. At the same time, the public aid will cause limited distortions in competition.
This aid regime will run until December 31, 2024 and will take the form of direct subsidies. It will be awarded, after a competitive selection procedure, to dealers and operating companies and maintenance that operate on the state road network.
The measure pursues two main objectives. Firstly, to improve traffic safety, efficiency, interoperability, energy efficiency and innovation in highways and tunnels managed under concession. In addition, the investment aims strengthen safety in the operation and maintenance of roads.
Among the projects that may receive this aid are automatic incident detection systemssystems for monitoring atmospheric conditions on roads, intelligent lighting control systems, cooperative systems to make the national transport network more interoperable, and systems that allow remote and automatic operation of maintenance works thanks to drones and machinery digitized.
After examining the plans of the Spanish Government, the Community Executive has verified that the project complies with the EU rules on state aid. Firstly, the subsidies will facilitate the digitization of services linked to the road infrastructure through the establishment and improvement of intelligent systems. This digitization will also contribute to bridging the digital divide with the road infrastructures in which the State has already carried out similar investment projects or is currently doing so.
In addition, Brussels considers that the aid is necessary and proportionate for investors to carry out specific digitization projects. In this respect, concessionaires and operations and maintenance companies that apply for aid will have to present a cost-benefit analysis that demonstrates their financing gap.
In addition, the maximum amount of aid that a project may receive be based on reasonable cost estimates. Therefore, the positive effects of the measure in terms of contribution to the digitization of certain economic services linked to road infrastructure offset any possible negative effect from the point of view of distortion of competition, according to Brussels.
All investments and reforms involving state aid included in the national recovery plans presented in the context of Next Generation must be notified to the Commission for prior approval. The Community Executive must guarantee that equal conditions are preserved in the single market and that the funds are used in a way that minimizes the distortion of competition and private investment is not discouraged.