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Ship recycling levy a threat to EU competitiveness?

Europe – Several Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) would like to table a compromise amendment to the draft ship recycling regulation so as to establish a funding mechanism for the conscious recycling of ships. To be financed through a tonnage-based levy, it would mean port authorities charging all ships calling at EU ports, regardless of their flag.

The initial proposal of rapporteur Carl Schlyter, member of Greens EFA Sweden, was for the introduction of a levy of Euro 0.03 per gross ton. Now the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) is warning the European Parliament that such a measure would lead to ‘an unwanted increase’ in EU port dues averaging 25%; and in some, it is argued, it could even cause dues to double.

An impact assessment of the proposal took into account ESPO’s objections but concluded that there would be no risk of traffic evasion since port dues only constitute a minor part of the total cost of a ship’s voyage. The assessment even recommended an increase in the levy to Euro 0.05, which the compromise amendment now indeed proposes.

ESPO’s secretary general Patrick Verhoeven has urged MEPs to ‘reconsider this ill-conceived proposal’. He says that the risk of traffic evasion to non-EU ports is ‘very real’ and that enforcing the levy would be particularly troublesome in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea. The levy would also ‘turn port authorities into tax collectors’, thus causing a significant extra administrative and technical burden for ESPO members, adds Mr Verhoeven.

MEPs should understand that these unwanted consequences for the maritime sector clearly outweigh potential benefits regarding conscious recycling of ships, he asserts. The proposal ‘is set to provoke a further modal shift to less energy-efficient modes of transport’, he also notes.

The rapporteur and the shadow rapporteurs of the different political groups are expected to decide on the compromise amendment in the coming days. A vote will then take place in the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee on March 26.

To accelerate the formal entry into force of the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, the Commission also presented a draft decision requiring Member States to ratify it.

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