The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, the modification of an aid scheme to support the maritime transport sector in Germany.
Under the existing scheme, which was last approved by the Commission under EU State aid rules in May 2016, shipping companies employing seafarers on board eligible merchant vessels can benefit from a reduction of wage taxes for their seafarers. Germany notified the Commission of the following modifications to the existing scheme:
(i) the prolongation of the scheme until 31 May 2027;
(ii) an increase of the overall budget of approximately €70 million per year (previously €25 million per year); and
(iii) the extension of the scheme from only German-flagged vessels to all eligible vessels flying the flag of any European Economic Area (EEA) country provided that they were registered in a German shipping register.
With respect to the latter, following discussions with the Commission, the German authorities committed to further open the scheme and to extend it also to eligible vessels registered in other EU/EEA shipping registers. The Commission found that the scheme, as modified, also in light of the additional commitment by Germany, is in line with internal market rules as it will ensure that there is no discrimination between vessels based on the shipping registry in the EU/EEA in which they are registered.
The Commission also found that the scheme, as amended, is line with the Commission’s interpretation of the Guidelines on State aid to maritime transport, as it will contribute to the competitiveness of the EU maritime transport sector, while boosting employment and ensuring a level playing field in the EU. More information will be available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number SA.62571.