Level playing field in global markets is important, but so is level playing field within the internal market
Brussels, June 26th, 2020
These last four months, despite severe pressure, EU supply and logistics chains have shown exceptional resilience. Thanks to the dedication of workers and employers, the security of supplies of goods and equipment to citizens and hospitals has been ensured in the EU.
The port sector as part of the critical infrastructures which give access to the EU territory has played an essential role during the COVID 19 crisis. It therefore deserves serious and lasting attention from policy makers. Port ecosystems will be crucial components of the EU recovery.
FEPORT members discussed the impact of the COVID 19 crisis during Feport’s General Assembly meeting held on June 25th, 2020, as well as the measures that have been adopted by the EU to mitigate the negative effects on the economy and people.
FEPORT members fully support the European Commission’s intention to “systematically analyse the different ecosystems and assess the different risks and needs of industries”. It will be important to translate the classification of ports as part of critical infrastructures into concrete action plans.
FEPORT welcomes the European Commission’s "White Paper on a new instrument to tackle foreign subsidies”. It is important that EU policy makers realize that public subsidies granted to non EU shipyards have aggravated overcapacity in the global container shipping sector and accelerated the need for consolidation in shipping. Both developments have tremendous impact on the EU port sector and its ability to recoup the public and private investments that have been made.
It will be essential to adopt efficient instruments but also meaningful support measures that benefit not to individual sectors but to the different parties of each EU ecosystem. This is certainly the best way to garantee that there is a return of investment for EU taxpayers and for EU companies which are striving to offer very competitive services.
FEPORT members reiterate their call to EU regulators to guarantee level playing field not only in global markets, but also within the internal market.
Extending preferential tax treatment to activities performed by vertically integrated terminals owned by EU shipping companies is a distortion of competition that penalizes independent terminals. This is a clear breach of the principle of fair treatment and detrimental to level playing field in the internal market.
“In the press releases announcing ten tonnage tax Decisions, the EU Commission always ensures that “there is no spill-over of the favourable tax treatment of shipping companies into other sectors unrelated to maritime transport”. FEPORT members have serious doubts regarding the “no spill over” of the favourable tax treatment of shipping companies into the cargo handling sector and want to know more about the methodology of the EU Commission” noted Mr Gunther Bonz, President of FEPORT.
“The decision of the EU Commission not to modify the list of ancillary services in spite of a critical mass of decisions i.e. ten (10) broadening the scope of the eligibility to loading and unloading and/or cargo handling activities is from our point of view not acceptable as the decisions are not any more specific but confirming a real approach taken by the Commission with respect to the inclusion of cargo handling. Therefore, we formally request that cargo handling is excluded from the scope of eligibility to tonnage tax. We need real level playing field within the internal market” concluded Mr Bonz.
FEPORT is looking forward to continuing the good cooperation with all institutional stakeholders to achieve a sustainable recovery for the EU, its industries and citizens.
 The Commission's most recent decisions concerning the Estonian tonnage tax and seafarer scheme (Case SA.53469 ), the prolongation of the Cyprus tonnage tax and seafarer scheme (Case SA.51809 ), the prolongation of the Danish seafarer scheme (Case SA.52069 ), the extension of the Belgian seafarer scheme (Case SA.56475 ) and the Italian support measures for maritime transport (Case SA.48260).
For more information contact:
Mrs Lamia Kerdjoudj-Belkaid
FEPORT Secretary General