The Union of Greek Shipowners reacted strongly on Thursday to a series of proposals the European Commission sent to Greece for adoption so the country complies with European rules on equal taxation in maritime transport and does not risk fines for illegal subsidies.
The Commission argues that any Greek legal clauses exempting shipping companies’ dividends, inheritance and capital gains from shareholdings from taxation are illegal. Brussels also says that firms managing commercial ships can retain their privileged tax status but only if they do not reduce the share of their fleet that sails under EU flags.
The Greek shippers have responded that the country’s shipping framework constitutes laws introduced before the country acceded to the then European Economic Community and was recognized fully when Greece became a member in 1981 without ever having been disputed until now. It also constitutes a vital part of the national policy for attracting investment in the shipping sector.
Shipowners also warned that a decision by Brussels on the Greek tax system for shipping could set a precedent for other European countries and cause serious turbulence in the EU shipping sector after 20 years of growth.