European Commission Approves Spanish Tonnage Tax

Wednesday, February 27, 2002
The European Commission decided to approve the Spanish maritime Tonnage Tax scheme. Under this scheme, tax due from a maritime shipping company is calculated on the basis of the capacity (tonnage) of the ships used by that company rather than from its profit or loss. The Commission took this decision in the context of its maritime policy which aims at preserving employment and shipping activities in the EU and at improving safety in that sector. Spanish maritime shipping companies will be able to opt for the open ended Tonnage Tax scheme for 10-year renewable periods. This will allow them to pay taxes at a fixed daily rate proportional to the capacity of ships employed (per 100 net tonnage) and thus reduce their tax burden. Through this scheme the Spanish authorities intend to revert the decline of the Spanish maritime shipping sector, which started around 1982. The "Community guidelines on State aid to maritime transport"(1) as well as the new Commission Transport White Paper(2) underline the Commission support to measures such as the Tonnage Tax which contribute to fighting the prevailing shipping decline in the Union through: the safeguard of employment in the sector in the European Union; preserving maritime know-how in the Community and developing maritime skills; improving safety in shipping. The Commission already approved similar schemes in several other Member States, including The Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom, where first results show a positive impact on the national shipping sectors.

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