25th January 2013
The Welsh Labour Government’s announcement in December of its intention to purchase Cardiff Airport from its private owners, TBI, has received widespread criticism.
There is now concern that the nationalisation could breach EU state aid rules and harm the future growth prospects of neighbouring airports, such as Bristol Airport.
I have this week called on the European Commission to investigate if the purchase would breach EU rules on state aid. These rules limit the use of public resources where they would distort competition.
Not only is this decision by the Welsh Labour government a waste of taxpayers’ money at a time of fiscal tightening, but the purchase could also provide Cardiff Airport with an unfair advantage over other regional operatives who are not in receipt of government funds, such as Bristol Airport.
The Welsh Government needs to decide whether purchasing an airport deemed by the Civil Aviation Authority to be its worst-performing is really the best way to spend public funds, and seriously consider whether they are in breach of EU law.
That is why I have asked the European Commission to investigate this as a matter of urgency.