European approval for cruise funding

Cruise liner on the River Mersey with the Liver Buildings in the background

The European Commission has found that public funding worth £17.8 million granted for the construction of Liverpool Cruise Terminal is in line with EU state aid rules.

It follows a complaint from the Port of Southampton, which triggered an investigation by the Commission over the financing of the facility.

The project received funding from the UK Government of £9.2 million and £8.6 million of EU Structural Funds.

The Commission found that the public funding was limited to the minimum necessary to make the investment possible and the potential distortions of competition triggered by the public funding will be limited because the terminal will have a small market share, both in the EU and UK markets.

It also believes the positive effects of the project will outweigh any potential distortions of competition brought about by the aid.

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.”

Liverpool’s Cruise Liner Terminal was completed in 2007, and in 2012 the city council successfully applied to the UK Government for it to become a turnaround facility, on condition that £8.8 million of the £9.2 million of the UK subsidy was paid back .

This year the terminal is set to welcome 40 vessels carrying tens of thousands of visitors.