Fees for use of the port infrastructure in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The European Commission, supporting maritime transport, has proposed the adoption of a transitory modification measure of the regulation (EU) 2017/352 with the purpose of allowing managing companies and competent authorities to concede flexibility regarding collection of fees for use of port infrastructure in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Article 13, paragraph 4 of the regulation (EU) 2017/352, states that the fees for use of the port infrastructure can be modified for some categories of users, but it does not allow the managing company of a port or a competent authority to forfeit payment of the fee for use of the port infrastructure, suspend it, reduce it or postpone it for all port users.
The new transitory measure proposed by the Commission would offer member states the possibility of allowing managing companies of ports or competent authorities to take the following decisions regarding payment of the fees for use of the port infrastructure:
- to forfeit it (remit it, i.e., not request it at all; or
- to suspend it(freeze it or stop it for a certain length of time); or
- to reduce it(decrease the amount); or
- to postpone it(request it at a later date).
As the duration of the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on maritime transport is uncertain, and in order to concede sufficient flexibility to the sector, the Commission has proposed the new transitory measure be applied to fees for use of the port infrastructure due for the period between 1 March 2020 31 December 2020.
Given the urgency of the matter, official consultations of the stakeholders have not taken place. However, some authorities and some ports of the member states have already announced similar measures to those proposed by the commission.
We would like to remind readers that, according to article 2, point 9, of the regulation (EU) 2017/352, for fees of use of the port infrastructure, the following is intended: “a fee charged with direct or indirect benefit for the port management company, or competent authority, for the use of infrastructures, structures and services, including access via waterways to the port in question, including passenger and good management, but excluding land rental fees and fees with equivalent effects”.