ECSA in full support of effective and well-targeted tonnage tax for shipping

June 17, 2020

Today, the Federation of European Private Port Operators (FEPORT) and the European Association for Forwarding, Transport, Logistics and Customs Services (CLECAT) once again asked the European Commission to take action to restrict the use of the tonnage tax system for shipping companies. Both organisations suggest to no longer apply the tonnage tax system to ‘ancillary activities’ - activities that are closely connected to shipping operations. ECSA sees no ground for this request as the alleged distortion of competition stemming from the application of tonnage tax to ancillary activities is not recognised.

ECSA wants to stress that the tonnage tax system is essential for providing European shipowners a level playing field vis-à-vis non-EU competitors, safeguarding highly-skilled office jobs at the shipowners’ offices in Europe for many Europeans. Anchoring these offices and the employment in Europe also leads to important positive effects on other parts of the European maritime and logistics cluster in terms of additional turnover and jobs.

The approach followed by the European Commission on ‘ancillary activities’ has been applied for many years. ECSA is not aware of any distortion of competition with operators in other parts of the logistics chain. Today, ECSA invited FEPORT and CLECAT for another discussion on this topic, as a follow-up to a first discussion requested by ECSA more than half a year ago. This discussion did not bring to the table any clear cases of distortion of competition. Reports on this topic also lack convincing arguments. For ECSA, the topic remains highly theoretical.

ECSA has full confidence in the decision-making process of the European Commission on state aid for maritime transport. ECSA remains confident that the conditions attached to applying the tonnage tax to ancillary activities and other ringfencing conditions that Member States have to follow prevent any distortion of competition with other operators in the logistics chain.

European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) press release