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State Aid

State Aid: Norway may expand tax refund scheme for seafarers




The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) has today approved Norway's planned expansion of an aid scheme granting tax and social security contributions refunds to shipping companies.

NIS-case"EEA rules do not require any changes to the seafarer scheme. However, the Norwegian Government wishes to expand the scheme, and may choose to do so”, says ESA President Bente Angell-Hansen.

The current aid scheme, without the planned expansion, came into force in 2016 and will run until 2026. ESA's approval means that Norway can go ahead with plans to expand the scheme to include passenger ferries that are registered in the Norwegian ship register NIS and are offering overnight lodging on sailing routes longer than 300 nautical miles between Norwegian and foreign ports.

The annual budget allocation for the extension is some NOK 100 million (approx. EUR 10.5 million), which will go towards reimbursing shipping companies for the taxes and social security contributions they pay for EEA seafarers on ships registered in NIS. This way, Norwegian authorities aim to encourage shipping companies to recruit seafarers from Norway or other EEA States.

“The maritime transport services are of vital importance to the EEA and marked by fierce international competition. Norway's objective is to maintain EEA employment and EEA maritime know-how”, says Angell-Hansen.

Norway first proposed the planned expansion in its Maritime Strategy in May 2015. However, the government awaited the outcome of ESA's internal market investigation of the Norwegian International Ship Register (NIS). After ESA found no breach of internal market rules and closed this investigation in November 2017, Norway notified the aid scheme amendment to ESA on 2 March 2018.

The amended measure is planned to enter into force on 1 July.

For further information, please contact:

Ms. Anne Vestbakke
Head of Communications
tel. +32 2 286 18 66
mob. +32 490 57 63 53

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