Simplification of the EU rules on public funding in ports and airports

EU Commission extended to public funding in ports and airports the application of the 2014 General Block Exemption Regulation, which enables Member States to implement a wide range of State aid measures without prior Commission approval because they are unlikely to distort competition. This amendment aims to facilitate public investments in sectors (such as ports and airports) that can play a significant role for job creation and growth whilst preserving competition. As regards airports, Member States can now make public investments in regional airports handling up to 3 million passengers per year and cover operating costs of small airports handling up to 200 000 passengers per year. With reference to ports, Member States can now make public investments of up to Euro 150 million in sea ports and up to Euro 50 million in inland ports; moreover, public authorities are now to cover the costs of dredging in ports and access waterways.

The redeeming work finally at customs

The National Council of Freight Forwarders has recently issued a circular about customs voluntary disclosure that draws the attention to the possibility under the amended Art. 13 of the Italian Legislative Decree no. 472/1997 to settle customs claims by paying the full duties and a 1/5 reduced fine.

EU Court of Justice judgement on air carrier’s liability for flight cancellation

On 11th May 2017, the Court of Justice of the European Union issued an important judgment on the interpretation of Article 5 par.1, letter c) and 7 of (EC) Regulation n. 261/2004, which provides common rules on compensation and assistance to flight passengers in the event of denied boarding, cancellation or extended delay. The Court held that passengers who are not informed about the cancellation of the flight at least two weeks before the scheduled departure time shall be entitled to a suitable compensation from the air carrier. Moreover, the Court held that the air carrier shall be liable for said compensation even if the omission of the notice to the passengers about the cancellation of the flight is attributable to its agent, who failed to notify the passengers of the cancellation despite the prompt information that he directly received from the air carrier.

The new EU Regulation on port services supply

On 24th March 2017, the EU Regulation no. 352/2017 will enter into force. The Regulation sets a new regulatory framework on port services supply and introduces common rules on financial transparency, port services fees and use of port infrastructures. By the adoption of the new Regulation, EU pursues the definition of clear, equal and non-discriminatory rules in order to promote a good business strategy and ensure the compliance of port investment plans with the rules on competition providing, where necessary, for the subsidiary intervention of the EU bodies pursuant to Art. 5 of the Treaty on the European Union.

Another decision on road transport minimal costs

By the judgment no. 02655 of 21st February 2017, the Regional Court of Lazio (TAR) repealed the Italian Ministry of Infrastructures and Transport’s provisions which assessed the road transport minimal costs on the basis of the same formula previously used by the Osservatorio sulle Attività di Autotrasporto. TAR refers to the important decision of the European Court of Justice issued on 4th September 2014, where the Court held that Art. no. 83-bis of the Italian Law Decree no. 112/2008 is contrary to the EU principle of free competition under Art. no. 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of European Union, insofar as Art. 83-bis provided for the calculation of the road transport fares based on the minimal costs assessed by an entity (the Osservatorio sulle Attività di Autotrasporto) mainly composed of economic operators in the same industry.

Registration in the Italian International Registry of ships temporarily suspended from a EU registry

By Law 7.7.2016 no. 122, the Italian Parliament amended art. 1 of the law on the Italian International Registry of Ships (Legislative Decree 30.12.1997 n. 457) to the effect that it is now possible to register in the third section of said registry the vessels belonging to EU owners and temporarily suspended from a EU registry as a result of a bareboat to an Italian or EU entity.

Shipping, Forwarding & Logistics meet Industry – Milan, 2 – 3 february 2017

On 2 – 3 February 2017, the first edition of the conference “Shipping, Forwarding & Logistic meet Industry – Logistics and maritime cluster at service of the Italian system” will be held in Milan at Assolombarda Congress Center. Marco Lopez de Gonzalo, with a presentation on damages by transport delay, and Marco Lenti, with a presentation on the logistical issues arising out of e-commerce, will attend the conference as speakers. A summary of the event can be found here.

Ocean-going ships and VAT exemptions

By the Resolution issued on 12th January 2017 (no. 2/E), the Italian Revenue Agency, in addition to the exclusion of ships involved in salvage operations and fishing boats from benefits related to the assignment and/or performance of services (art. no. 8-bis of Italian VAT Decree), held that the VAT exemption for “ocean-going ships” can apply only where the official documentation of the previous year proves that the ship performed more than 70% of her voyages on high seas (beyond 12 nautical miles). Therefore, said Resolution implies that length and tonnage requirements formerly identified by EU Court of Justice to define the “ocean-going ships” (EUCJ, Commission/France, C-197-12) are no longer sufficient to enjoy the aforesaid exemption.