Another setback for Gateway Basel Nord

3. February 2020
Weiterer Rückschlag für das Projekt Gateway Basel Nord

The controversial Gateway Basel Nord project now faces another setback. In its decision of 21 January 2020, the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland upheld an appeal from Swissterminal, finding that Schweizerische Rheinhäfen (Swiss Rhine Ports) violated the rights of Swissterminal. With this decision, the Federal Supreme Court overturned the decision of the lower Basel-Landschaft Cantonal Court. This verdict is likely to further delay the realisation of the Gateway project.

In connection with its plans to carry out the controversial, large-scale construction trimodal terminal Gateway Basel Nord the public-law body Swiss Rhine Ports decided to move forward without issuing a public tender. Swiss Rhine Ports operates the ports along the Rhine river in Basel and is owned by the Swiss cantons Basel-Landschaft and Basel-Stadt. At the same time, it refused to allow the private company Swissterminal AG the right to issue an appealable decision to waive the tenders. Swissterminal is currently also active on the Rhine river in Kleinhueningen but will lose the right to operate its facility with end of its lease in 2029.

Swissterminal lodged a formal complaint against this decision. However, in its decision of 20 February 2019, the Cantonal Court of Basel-Landschaft dismissed Swissterminal’s complaint, siding with the Rhine Ports. Swissterminal then filed an appeal to the Federal Supreme Court.

The judgment of the Cantonal Court was overturned
In its decision of 21 January 2020, the Federal Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Cantonal Court, ordering Swiss Rhine Ports to respond to Swissterminal’s request in accordance with the Federal Court’s considerations. Additionally, the Cantonal Court of Basel-Landschaft is obliged by the Federal Supreme Court to redefine the cost and compensation consequences in connection with its judgment in February 2019, which were then determined at the expense of Swissterminal.

At the same time, Swiss Rhine Ports must compensate Swissterminal CHF 4,000 for the federal proceedings.

Second positive decision within a short time
The latest Federal Court ruling marks the second time within a short period that the Rhine Ports have been reprimanded in court. In October 2019, the Federal Administrative Court upheld another appeal from Swissterminal, finding that the company was denied the opportunity to comment on the Basel Gateway Nord’s financing. In this case, the project must also be reassessed.

Swissterminal is the market leader
Swissterminal Holding AG is the Swiss market leader for container handling in line with international freight traffic throughout Switzerland. The company, founded in 1972, operates high-performance container terminals in Frenkendorf, Zurich-Niederglatt, Basel-Birsfelden, Basel-Kleinhueningen and Liestal. Each of these locations offer direct connections to Europe’s largest container ports in Rotterdam and Antwerp and to ports south of the Alps in La Spezia, Genoa, Ravenna and Trieste. Since January 2020, DP World, one of the world’s largest operators of container terminals, has held a 44% stake in Swissterminal Holding AG.