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European Commission - Press release

State aid: Commission consults stakeholders on state aid rules for the maritime sector

Brussels, 14 February 2012 - The European Commission has launched a public consultation, to get stakeholders' views on the application of the 2004 EU Guidelines on state aid to maritime transport. Submissions can be made until 14 May 2012. In light of the comments received, the Commission will decide whether the Guidelines need to be revised and will consult further so as to determine if new rules should be adopted. In the absence of any revision the current Guidelines continue to apply.

"In 1989, the Commission adopted its first Guidelines on state aid to maritime transport with the aim of encouraging shipping companies to do business in and from Europe. 7 years have passed since the last revision and it is time to check the Guidelines' validity against market developments", said Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia.

The purpose of the present consultation is to invite Member States and stakeholders to provide feedback and data about the effect that the Maritime Guidelines have had on the EU maritime industry or the evolution of business models. The Commission is also interested in information about possible shortcomings of the Guidelines that could be addressed in the future.

The Commission will analyse the submissions received before deciding to what extent current rules require a modification and, if appropriate, come forward with a proposal for revised Maritime Guidelines. The Guidelines have no expiry date, but the Commission has a duty to regularly examine the application of its Guidelines.


During the 1980s and up to the mid 1990s, a large number of shipping companies were attracted outside Europe to so-called "flags of convenience" countries, where they could use cheaper crews, enjoy looser safety conditions and a more favourable tax environment.

In order to promote both ship registration under European flags and employment of European seafarers, the Commission adopted in 1989 the first Guidelines on state aid to maritime transport. These Guidelines set out common criteria to assess the compatibility of public support measures with the internal market and to limit possible distortions of competition. The Guidelines were subsequently amended in 1997 and 2004.

The public consultation is available at:

Contacts :

Antoine Colombani (+32 2 297 45 13)

Maria Madrid Pina (+32 2 295 45 30)

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