The European Commission (EC) has ordered six Dutch port authorities that had previously been exempt from paying corporate taxes on their income to now pay, in order to align the with European Union state aid rules.
The port authorities in question are Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Zeeland, Den Helder, Groningen and Moerdijk.
Cross border competition plays an important role in the ports sector and the EC is intends to ensure an equal playing field in this important economic sector, according to an EC press release.
The release read that the: “commercial operation of port infrastructure constitutes an economic activity; when carrying out economic activities, public companies compete with private players, who are subject to paying corporate tax.
“These economic activities can be distinguished from other activities that are linked to the operation of infrastructure for the exercise of the essential responsibilities of the State. For example, safety, surveillance, traffic control; which fall outside the scope of EU state aid control.”
Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner of Competition Policy, said: “Ports are key infrastructure for economic growth and regional development.
“I will soon present a proposal to facilitate unproblematic investments in ports that can create jobs, to exempt them from scrutiny under EU state aid rules.
“At the same time, the commission's decisions today regarding the Netherlands, Belgium and France make clear that if port operators generate profits from economic activities these should be taxed under the normal national tax laws to avoid distortions of competition.”