EU loosens aid rules to simplify airport, port investment

The European Union is loosening rules on state aid to simplify government investments in airports and ports.

EU rules require governments to notify the bloc's executive Commission in advance of many public investment plans, to ensure they don't distort competition. The Commission decided on Wednesday to expand exemptions.

EU governments will now be able to make investments in existing regional airports that handle up to 3 million passengers per year without first having the EU check those plans. The Commission says that will cover more than 420 airports.

Member countries will be allowed to invest up to 150 million euros ($165 million) in sea ports and 50 million euros in inland ports without EU scrutiny. The Commission is also relaxing rules on state aid for culture and sports arena projects.