Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

The European Commission accepts the renewal of a French aid to passenger transport companies

Written by Eric Apim on Thursday, September 15th 2022 à 17:50 | Read 1216 times

Cruise companies are now eligible for French aid (photo: F.Dubessy)
Cruise companies are now eligible for French aid (photo: F.Dubessy)
FRANCE. On Thursday, September 15, 2022, the European Commission gave the green light to the reintroduction of a French scheme to support maritime passenger transport companies. Notified on November 13, 2020, it had been approved on June 11, 2021 and expired on December 31, 2021.

France has decided to renew it to "help EU shipping companies to be competitive in the global shipping market". And thus avoid "de-flagging in favor of non-European Union (EU) states offering a much cheaper tax and social regime for the shipowner," as stated in the official request of France to the European Commission.

More specifically, it consists of reducing the employment costs of EU personnel on board through a reduction in the social security contributions paid by the company. This allows "to safeguard the employment of EU citizens, to preserve maritime know-how and related maritime industries and to maintain a high level of safety in the sector," the document said.

Cruise ships eligible for the scheme

The approved support will be based on an envelope of up to €90 million (compared to €30 million for the previous one in 2021). It will be reactivated over a period leading up to 2024.

This scheme will benefit from three changes compared to its predecessor: "the inclusion as beneficiaries of cruise, cargo and service vessels; the half-yearly payment of the direct subsidy instead of a quarterly payment; and the introduction of a new eligibility criterion for seafarers working on ships other than scheduled passenger vessels (aid is granted only to operating personnel, as well as to junior officers)," says a European Commission press release.

The Commission noted that "the reintroduction will contribute to the competitiveness of the European maritime transport sector and to the employment of European seafarers, while being in line with fair competition rules. The Commission considered that the scheme, as amended, remains necessary, appropriate and proportionate. On this basis, the Commission has concluded that the reintroduction is in line with EU state aid rules.

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