The shipping industry has welcomed a decision by the European Commission to keep in place unchanged guidelines relating to state aid to maritime transport, which include tonnage tax regimes, but seafarers' union Nautilus sees it differently, according to the UK maritime industry's latest 'Maritime London Newsletter'.
Commission vice-president Joaquín Almunia, responsible for competition policy, recently decided to continue the 2004 Guidelines on State Aid to Maritime Transport without revision. The UK maritime unions, however, have complained that an opportunity was missed to increase the number of EU seafarers on EU-flag ships.
Sue Bill, a tax partner with shipping accountant Moore Stephens, says: “This is extremely good news for the shipping industry, both in the UK and elsewhere in the EU, which is facing severe competition from countries such as Singapore. It means they can now rely on a stable tax regime for the foreseeable future.”
European Shipowners Associations (ECSA) president Juan Riva welcomed the decision saying: "ECSA commends the Commission for pursuing a professional review and consultation process, which clearly demonstrated that the guidelines were successful. In the Member States where they were applied, they have produced strong economic, employment and strategic-capability benefits for the EU.
However, Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said he was very disappointed the commission had failed to act on union calls to introduce rules requiring companies in tonnage tax schemes to employ and train EU seafarers in return for fiscal support. He said: “There is no doubt that the tonnage tax schemes introduced by countries such as the UK and the Netherlands have helped to revive merchant fleets after decades of decline,”
Source: Maritime London