The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) expresses its concerns about the maritime pillar in the compromise text on the revised Energy Taxation Directive

23 April 2024

The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) fully supports the European Green Deal ambition. For ports it is important that a reviewed energy taxation policy is based on the polluter pays principle, effectively reduces shipping emissions, and helps accelerating the energy transition of the shipping sector.

Considering the Commission proposal and the proposals on the table in the Council, Europe’s ports fear that the new Energy Taxation Directive (ETD) is not delivering on two major points:

  1. A taxation of marine fuel, which is bunkered in the EU, will lead in the short term to an evasion of the bunkering business to ports outside the EU, without any impact on the use of this fuel, and hence on the emissions in the EU;
  2. The absence of a mandatory and permanent tax exemption for onshore power supply (OPS) is a missed opportunity to boost the use of OPS, which is identified as a major priority in the new Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR).

For these reasons, ESPO:

  • Asks for a full impact assessment of the implications of the current geographical scope of the proposal on carbon and business leakage, outlining the risk and impact of bunkering and rerouting on both delivering the Fit-for-55 ambitions and ensuring the competitiveness of EU markets and ports.
  • Finds that depending on the outcome of the impact assessment, policymakers should review Article 15 in such a way that only the share of marine fuels “used” for intra-EU voyages is subject to taxation, with a view of limiting the risk of evasion.
  • Calls for a mandatory and permanent EU-wide tax exemption for onshore power supply which would help deliver the priorities set in AFIR. By applying the tax exemption on the EU level, the ETD would ensure a level playing field in the maritime sector.

European ports look forward to continuing working with the European Commission and the EU Member States to ensure an effective Energy Taxation policy that stimulates the decarbonisation of the maritime sector without distorting the playing field level among Member States and between the EU and its neighbours. ESPO and its members remain fully available to discuss how the proposal can deliver this.

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