March 21 - The Port of Rotterdam Authority, Amsterdam Port Authority, Groningen Seaports, Moerdijk Port Authority, Port of Den Helder and Zeeland Seaports are appealing against the European Commission's decision, which states that Dutch seaports must pay

Last year Dutch legislature made an exception in the law for port authorities, meaning that they did not have to pay corporation tax because they were not competing with private parties, but with foreign ports and each other.

In January, the European Commission decided to overrule the special position of seaports in Dutch legislation.

During legal proceedings, the port authorities will principally allege an infringement of the principles of proper administration, such as equality and proportionality.

Paul Smits, financial director of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, said: "We are not against paying corporation tax, but then it should apply to all European sea ports. This is a matter of principle for us.

"The foreign ports with which we have to compete do not pay corporation tax and, in addition, are even supported in various ways by their governments."

He added: "The payment of corporation tax will come at the expense of our investments in the port complex. The purpose of this cannot be to increase unfair competition."

If the commission's decision came into effect, the Port of Rotterdam Authority would have to pay about EUR60 million (USD67.5 million) in corporation tax per year, based on its most recent annual figures.