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German electric car infrastructure does not constitute state aid, says Commission

A German government scheme to create a network of electric charging stations across the country is in line with EU state aid rules, the European Commission has said.15 Feb 2017

The charging infrastructure will address a gap in the market without unduly affecting competition in the European single market, the Commission said.

The measure is designed to promote the installation of both standard and high-speed charging stations for electrical vehicles plus extending existing infrastructure, and will cost a total of €300 million over four years. Support will be awarded through a tender procedure, and will require that the electricity used comes from renewable sources.

The plans will encourage a significant uptake in electric vehicles and therefore contribute to reducing emissions and improving air quality, the Commission said. The measure will also support the European strategy for low-emission mobility, particularly in terms of speeding up the deployment of alternative energy for transport.

"This support measure is expected to stimulate investment in a market that still requires incentives before it can function on its own," the Commission said.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "Electric vehicles can provide real benefits to society by reducing harmful emissions and noise pollution. The German support scheme will encourage consumers and businesses to use electric vehicles. It will provide the necessary infrastructure in a cost-effective way in line with EU state aid rules."

Ford, BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen Group announced last year that they plan to set up a network of high-powered charging stations across Europe to make long distance travel in electric vehicles easier.

The project will begin in 2017 with an initial target of 400 sites in Europe. By 2020 consumers should have access to "thousands" of charging points, the companies said.