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 application of royalties to customs value is still subject to the extensive interpretation by Italian Customs despite the publication by the European Commission (TAXUD / B4 / (2016) 80878128 April 2016) of the Guidelines to the new Customs Code, that clarify the rules under which the royalty can or must be added to the price of imported goods.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By the order no. 17675 issued on 7th September 2016, the Italian Court of Cassation upheld the validity of a bill of lading exclusive jurisdiction clause in international multimodal transport too. The Court reasoned that the inclusion of an exclusive jurisdiction clause in a bill of lading covering a multimodal transport is an internationally accepted custom of the trade.