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PR(04)07: The EFTA Surveillance Authority adopts new State Aid Guidelines for Maritime Transport

31.3.2004

The Authority has today adopted new Guidelines on State Aid to Maritime Transport.

The new Guidelines follow the same approach as their former 1997 version in ensuring a favourable tax environment for EEA shipowners to be able to meet international competition and counter the trend of outflagging. They continue to allow for tonnage tax schemes, reduced fiscal and social security contributions and training aid to this effect, provided that the shipowners respect safety, environmental and social standards on their ships.

The new Guidelines introduce clearer provisions as regards seafarers’ tax exemptions. As a general principle, cost alleviation is allowed for all seafarers irrespective of their nationality. However, for seafarers serving on board ships providing regular passenger se rvices between ports of the EEA, cost alleviation will only apply to citizens of the EEA States. New rules have been introduced for short sea shipping which concerns the transport between EEA ports. Aid might be granted for the launching phase of new services and must be of a kind to permit road transport to be carried out wholly or partially by sea. The Guidelines further introduce a more effective flag-link, which requires that in order to benefit from aid for additional non-EEA flagged vessels, shipping companies which operate less than 60% of their tonnage under an EEA flag, must fulfill a so-called "EEA tonnage share requirement". This share requirement means that aid to fleets which comprise vessels flying non-EEA flags can only be given for additional non-EEA flagged vessels if the companies commit themselves to increase or at least maintain the share of tonnage under an EEA flag which they have at the time the Guidelines enter into force.

The Guidelines enter into force on their date of adoption. EFTA States are asked to signify their agreement with the new rules by 30 June 2004. In case of acceptance, the EFTA States will have to comply with the new provisions by 30 June 2005 at the latest.

For further information, please contact Amund Utne, tel: (+32)(0)2 286 1851 or Annette Kliemann, tel: (+32) (0)2 286 18 80.

31 March 2004




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