Vestager stops illegal tax rebates for ports
Belgian and French ports have for many years received special tax rebates, which EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager now states as illegal. The two countries will adjust accordingly from January 1, 2018, but the ports will not have to pay back.
Ports should be taxed in the same way as other companies. There must be no special rules. According to Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who knows Belgian and French practices with special tax rebates to ports for illegal state aid.
"Ports are key infrastructure for economic growth and regional development. The Commission has recently introduced new rules to save time and effort for Member States when investing in ports and airports while maintaining competition.
At the same time, the Commission's decision regarding Belgium and France makes it clear - as it has happened before Holland - that unfounded tax exemptions for ports distort the equal terms and fair competition. They must be removed," says Margrethe Vestager in a press release on the decision.
In both countries, special tax rebates existed before the countries entered the EU. Therefore, they are considered as "existing aid" which the countries will not require reimbursed by the ports.
In Belgium, previous practice means that Belgian ports are not subject to the ordinary corporation tax, but by special rules, which generally means that they are less expensive in tax than other Belgian companies.
In France, the country's 11 largest ports have been completely exempt from paying any taxes.
But this must stop from January 1, next year.
Source: EU Kommissionen / Maritime Denmark