Call for Maritime State Aid Guidelines review

port operations FEPORT wants a review of the Maritime State Aid Guidelines to address taxation practices. Image: FEPORT
Industry Database

An industry body has called for a review of the Maritime State Aid Guidelines following a new ITF OCED maritime subsidies report which reportedly sheds light on taxation practices which are not included in the latest 2011 version of the Guidelines.

The Federation of European Private Port Companies and Terminals (FEPORT) wants a review to go ahead, stating that, according to the ‘Maritime Subsidies: Do They Provide Value for Money?’ report,  some taxation practices which have been cleared by DG Competition through individual decisions have not been incorporated in the General framework, i.e. Maritime State Aid Guidelines.

President of FEPORT, Gunther Bonz, said: “Cargo handling operations are not ancillary services, but activities performed by economic undertakings paying taxes in the EU and employing more than 390,000 port workers.

“FEPORT calls for a review of the Maritime State Aid Guidelines to have the opportunity to comment on the taxation practices that have been authorized through individual decisions without a thorough assessment of the impact on independent cargo handling operators.”

Open to manipulation

Not less than 10 decisions have modified the scope of eligibility of the tonnage tax to include loading/unloading or cargo handling services offered by shipping lines as ancillary services to maritime transport, said FEPORT.

Private port companies and terminals performing cargo handling activities in EU ports do not benefit from any tax exemptions. They are therefore very concerned to discover that, since 1996, the scope of eligibility to the tonnage tax has been modified at the expense of terminal operators.

“For the sake of transparency, equality of treatment and level playing field, it is essential to include maritime transport in the fitness check exercise that concerns a whole range of industries. Public consultations remain the best way to clarify the rules and guarantee an equality of treatment of all industries” continued Mr Bonz.

“The review of the Consortia BER has been a good example on how a sectoral instrument can impact well beyond the beneficiary industry. Once again, we realize that individual decisions on tonnage tax schemes are granting a competitive advantage to some shipping lines offering cargo handling services at the expense of independent terminals. It is crucial that this changes quickly as it is a significant source of distortion of competition.”

FEPORT will analyse the content of the report and share in the coming weeks its concerns and proposals with relevant institutional stakeholders.

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