The European Commission has found that publicly owned Spanish postal operator Correos was overcompensated for its universal delivery service obligation between 2004 and 2010, and also benefitted from incompatible tax exemptions.
In February 2016, the European Commission opened an investigation to examine whether a number of state support measures granted to Correos as compensation for carrying out this public service obligation were in line with EU State aid rules.
The Commission examined the support measures under EU State aid rules on public service compensation, adopted in 2011. According to the rules, member states can grant state aid to companies to compensate them for the extra cost of providing a public service, subject to certain criteria. This requires that companies entrusted with such services are not overcompensated.
The Commission’s assessment showed that Correos was overcompensated by approximately €166m (US$194m) for providing universal postal service in Spain from 2004-2010.
Specific tax exemptions granted since 2004 to Correos gave it an undue advantage, amounting to approximately €900,000 (US$1.05m).
The Commission has concluded that the aid granted through these two measures was incompatible with the internal market and ordered Spain to recover approximately €167m (US$196m) from Correos.