BRUSSELS, March 2 (Reuters) - Some state aid granted by Italian authorities to six companies that used to be part of Italian transport group Tirrenia was illegal under EU rules, the European Commission said on Monday, ordering Rome to recover 15 million euros ($16.63 million).
Most public support granted since 2009 to the Tirrenia Group was deemed correct, however, the Commission said. Only aid for one specific route was considered to breach EU state-aid rules.
“The illegal prolongation of the rescue aid to Tirrenia for one year, beyond the six months duration foreseen, is incompatible (with EU rules),” the Commission said in a statement, also citing illegal use of funds to keep the business running, rather than for vessel upgrades.
The Commission began its investigation into Tirrenia after complaints by competitors into public support that could have given an unfair advantage to Tirrenia, which was acquired by Compagnia Italiana de Navigazione. ($1 = 0.9021 euros) (Reporting by Robin Emmott; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)