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Freedom to provide services within the EU (ocean trade)

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Freedom to provide services within the EU (ocean trade)

The aim of this Regulation is to eliminate restrictions on the freedom to provide maritime transport services within the European Union (EU).

ACT

Council Regulation (EEC) No 3577/92 of 7 December 1992 applying the principle of freedom to provide services to maritime transport within Member States (maritime cabotage).

SUMMARY

Scope

This law ensures that, within a given EU country, shipping companies or nationals based in other EU countries have the right to offer maritime transport services (known as maritime cabotage) provided they comply with all the conditions for carrying out cabotage within that country. Shipping companies based in countries outside the EU, but controlled by EU nationals, may also offer such services.

The regulation defines maritime transport services within an EU country (maritime cabotage), Community shipowners, public service contract, public service obligations, and serious disturbance of the internal transport market.

Manning

Depending on the kind of transport service, matters relating to manning are the responsibility either of the EU country of registration (flag State) or of the country in which the cabotage service is performed (host State).

Public service

EU countries may make the right to provide transport services subject to public service obligations or may conclude public service contracts in the interests of maintaining adequate cabotage services between the mainland and its islands and between the islands themselves.

Safeguard measures

Where the market's opening up to cabotage results in problems (such as the serious excess of supply over demand) that threaten the financial survival of shipping companies, the Commission may introduce safeguard measures. These may include the temporary exclusion of the area concerned from the scope of the regulation.

Non-discrimination

Persons providing maritime transport services in an EU country other than their own may do so temporarily on the same terms as those applied by that country to its own nationals.

Timetable

Maritime cabotage was liberalised on 1 January 1993. For France, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain, mainland cabotage was gradually liberalised according to a specific timetable for each type of transport service. Mainland-island and inter-island cabotage for these countries was liberalised in 1999. This exemption was extended for Greece until 2004 for scheduled passenger and lighter services and services involving vessels of less than 650 gross tonnes (gt). Exemptions were granted to Croatia till 31 December 2016 for existing public service contracts and for cruise services between Croatian ports by ships smaller than 650 gt, which are reserved for Croatian ships till 31 December 2014.

Background

Further information is available from this web site.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EEC) No 3577/92

1.1.1993

-

L 364 of 12.12.1992

Amending act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Act concerning the conditions of accession of Croatia

1.7.2013

-

OJ L 112 of 24.4.2012

RELATED ACTS

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the interpretation of Council Regulation (EEC) No 3577/92 applying the principle of freedom to provide services to maritime transport within Member States (maritime cabotage) ( COM(2003) 595 final - Not published in the Official Journal).

Decision 93/125/EEC on Spain's request for adoption by the Commission of safeguard measures under Article 5 of Council Regulation (EEC) No 3577/92 against applying the principle of freedom to provide services to maritime transport within Member States (maritime cabotage) - (Official Journal L 49 of 27.02.1993).

This Decision authorises Spain to exclude the Spanish mainland, for six months from the date of notification of this Decision, from the scope of Regulation (EEC) No 3577/92. The exclusion does not apply to feeder services. If no Spanish vessel is available to meet the demand for cabotage transport services, other EU countries' vessels will be allowed to offer such services.

Report from the Commission to the Council: Fifth report on the implementation of Council Regulation (EEC) No 3577/92 applying the principle of freedom to provide services to maritime cabotage (2001-2010) (COM(2014) 231 final of 22.4.2014 - not published in the Official Journal).

This report is divided into 4 chapters:

  • 1Recent case-law and legislative developments in EU and EFTA countries;
  • 2Market trends in EU and EFTA countries;
  • 3The available data on employment in maritime cabotage (due to the lack of reliable and conclusive data this part no longer contains the statistics on the crew costs).
  • 4Conclusion: the Regulation is fit for purpose and does not require revision. Some issues raised in the consultation suggest there are problems of interpretation and implementation. These have been addressed in the communication on maritime cabotage (see next entry).

Communication from the Commission on the interpretation of Council Regulation (EEC) No 3577/92 applying the principle of freedom to provide services to maritime transport within Member States (maritime cabotage) [ COM(2014) 232 final of 22.4.2014 - not published in the Official Journal].

Drawing on over 20 years' experience of the practical application of Regulation (EEC) No 3577/92, in the interests of transparency and legal certainty, the Commission has decided to update and amend its interpretation of the provisions of the Regulation.

This Communication amends and replaces previous Commission's interpretative communications of 2003 and 2006. It is for information purposes only, to help explain the Regulation and indicates how the Commission intends to apply the Regulation. It does not set out either to revise the Regulation or to encroach on the Court of Justice's jurisdiction in matters of interpretation.

It starts by specifying the scope of the freedom to provide services in the maritime cabotage sector. It indicates who enjoys that freedom and recalls which services the Regulation covers.

It goes on to describe the extent of the three derogations to the freedom to provide services, as provided for in the regulation:

  • EU countries can impose manning rules on board ships smaller than 650 gt and vessels performing island cabotage services between two ports on their territory.
  • EU countries may impose public service obligations and conclude public service contracts in order to ensure an adequate scheduled transport service to, from and between islands.
  • EU countries may ask the Commission to adopt safeguard measures to remedy a serious disturbance of the internal market.

Lastly, it provides guidance on the application of Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 on public passenger transport services by rail and by road to maritime cabotage services.

Last updated: 11.08.2014

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