December 6 - Belgium has received approval from the European Commission (EC) to prolong its existing tax measures for maritime transport until the end of 2022.
The aim of the scheme, which was approved under EU state aid rules, is to encourage shipping companies to register their ships in Europe to ensure higher social, environmental and safety standards.
Belgium has also committed to a number of changes to its scheme to prevent any discrimination between shipping companies and registries of different European Economic Area (EEA) States.
Under the Belgian scheme, a shipping company is taxed on the basis of ship tonnage, or size of its shipping fleet, rather than the profits of the company.
In particular, tonnage taxation will be applied to a shipping company's core revenues from shipping activities, such as cargo and passenger transport; ancillary revenues that are closely connected to the shipping activities, which are now capped at a maximum of 50 percent of a ship's operating revenues; and revenues from towage and dredging, as well as onshore ship management activities.
The Belgian scheme mandates a shipping company to operate a significant part of its fleet under the flag of an EU or EEA State.