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EU Unveils New Rules On State Aid To Ship Management Companies

by Ulrika Lomas, for LawAndTax-News.com, Brussels

12 June 2009


The European Commission has provided new and detailed guidance on state aid granted to ship management companies.

These rules complement the 2004 guidelines on state aid to maritime transport.

Under the guidance adopted on June 10, the tonnage tax may be applied to all ship managers, as long as they contribute to the development of the European maritime cluster and, more importantly, that they make a commitment to implement the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 ahead of its entry into force.

Until June 10, (under the 204 Community guidelines on state aid to maritime transport) only ship managers providing joint technical and crew management for the same ship were eligible for a tonnage tax scheme.

Tonnage tax is calculated not on the profit or loss of a company in a given year, but by applying a notional annual income on its net registered tonnage.

The 2004 guidelines, however, contained a commitment to re-examine the eligibility of ship managers after three years from its implementation. The Commission reassessed the matter and came to the conclusion that outsourcing part of a ship operation should not be fiscally penalized. Crew management and technical management of ships will therefore also be eligible when they are individually supplied.

The Commission however requires that the ships managed are fully compliant with international safety rules, and, as for crew managers, that they apply substantial provisions of the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention, ahead of its entry into force.

Ship managers provide services encompassing activities which are normally carried out by ship owners. Ship managers deal with ship maintenance and safety supervision (technical managers), recruitment, training and administration of seafarers (crew managers), or sale of ships' capacity (commercial managers).

Most ship managers are active in crew management, some of them in technical management and a few in commercial management.

The communication adopted this month deals with technical and crew managers.


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