New ITF report on “Maritime subsidies”: FEPORT calls for more transparency and a review of the Maritime State Aid Guidelines to achieve it
Brussels, September 20th, 2019
FEPORT who represents the private port companies and terminals performing cargo handling activities in EU ports welcomes the publication of ITF OECD report on “Maritime subsidies” as it sheds light on a number of taxation practices which are not included in the last version Maritime State Aid Guidelines (2011).
According to the ITF 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.
Not less than 10 (ten) decisions (pag. 54) 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.
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.
“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” commented FEPORT president, Mr Gunther Bonz.
“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” added Mr Bonz.
“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” concluded FEPORT President.
FEPORT will carefully analyse the content of the report and share in the coming weeks its concerns and proposals with relevant institutional stakeholders.