The Greek Union of Shipowners reacted against the EU revision of their tax privileges and warned that it may lead to serious problems for European merchant fleet. The European Commission asked Greece to clarify the workings of its tax system for the shipping industry. The EU commissioners want Greece to apply clear model for taxation of companies in the maritime transport sector, as currently the country is using taxation depending on the tonnage of their ships rather than their profits and methods allow interpretation of the law and tax evasion. According to European Commission, the clear and well defined model for taxation will make the European merchant fleet more competitive on the world markets and will increase the incomes for the Greek budget. However, the Greek Union of Shipowners is among the most powerful lobbies in the government and hardly opposed this model.
“If we enter a full investigation and consultation begins… on what happens in European shipping, it would open a Pandora’s box, not for Greece but for other countries”, said the head of the Greek Union of Shipowners, Theodore Veniamis. “Why the European Commission do not make a similar request to Germany or the Netherlands. Greek shipbuilders will not balance other countries, which resorted to entangled laws and methods to defend their own shipbuilders”, added he.
Brussels suspects the current taxation system, which grants favorable treatment to shipowners, is being extended to also benefit shipping company shareholders and brokers.
Greek shipowners operate the largest fleet in the world, but only a third of their ships under Greek flag.
“There is no competition kink between European maritime nations,” he said. “We haven’t seen any European shipowners coming to Greece’s (tax) paradise”, finished Theodore Veniamis.