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Brussels, 10 March 2009

Aid to maritime transport: Commission approves modifications in the Dutch tonnage tax scheme

The European Commission decided today to authorise the changes the Netherlands plan to make to their tonnage tax scheme. This tax regime enables shipping companies not to pay company tax but only a flat-rate tax based on the tonnage of their fleet.

The Dutch tonnage tax scheme was initially approved by the Commission in 1996 and then brought into line with the current Guidelines on state aid to maritime transport[1]. In 2008 the Dutch authorities notified their intention to introduce two changes in their tonnage tax scheme. The first one relates to large vessels exceeding 50 000 net tonnes, for which they propose to apply a much lower tax base of €0.5 per day per 1000 net tonnes. The second change concerns ship management companies, for which the Dutch authorities propose to lower the tonnage tax base by 75%. The planned reduction aims to offset the lack of incentives for such companies to develop their activities in the Community. Today, they have to pay a much higher percentage of their profits as tonnage tax than ship-owners. At the same time, externalising ship management is a global trend which significantly increases efficiency and competitiveness.

The Commission considers that both amendments are compatible with the common market and can contribute to the Community's interests in the field of maritime policy.

The amendments may be applied as from 1 January 2009.

[1] OJ C 13 of 17.01.2004, p. 3.

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