Brussels, 3 April 2008
The Commission has found that harbour dues charged when vessels visit the Canary and Balearic Islands, or Ceuta and Melilla are lower than those levied on traffic between ports on the Spanish mainland and elsewhere in the Community.
Also, dues for vessels sailing between Spanish and third country ports are not subsidised under Spanish legislation and are thus higher than those charged for traffic between Spain and other Member States.
Such forms of discrimination are in principle contrary to the provisions of Regulation (EEC) No 4055/86 applying the principle of freedom to provide services to maritime transport between Member States and between Member States and third countries. They can be justified only on the basis of overriding reasons relating to the public interest.
In this context, Spain claimed the need to defend territorial cohesion. It failed, however, to adduce sufficient evidence to demonstrate that its subsidies are necessary and proportionate, particularly in the light of the compensation already in place for public service obligations for the areas in question.
 Council Regulation (EEC) No 4055/86 of 22 December 1986 applying the principle of freedom to provide services to maritime transport between Member States and between Member States and third countries.